my CAD Story, the School Years

Installing Vectorworks

I am about to embark on the next leg of my CAD journey. I recently purchased Vectorworks Architect, which will transition me from the world of 2D CAD (Computer Aided Drafting (not Design)) into the world of BIM (Building Information Modeling). From recreating the drafting board on the computer to a new way of thinking about and producing drawings for construction.

While i am still very new to the idea of BIM, it has been around for some time. And it seems clear that it is the future of how we represent Architecture. So i took the plunge and will spend the next few months learning not only a new software package, but a new way of drawing.

As i am about to initiate this this next phase of my practice, i cannot help but reflect on how i got here. So here is my story, to the best of my recollection:

Project from second year studio at KSU.

I was first introduced to CAD going into my third year of Architecture school at Kent State University. It was 1994. The school was just starting to require that students provide their own computer work station and CAD software with which to do studio work. The choices we were given were AutoCAD and MicroStation. Both of which were offered through the school at significant savings. Against the avid advice of a classmate, i went with MicroStation (he said i should go with AutoCAD) on an AT&T computer running Windows 3.1 (he said Macs were the future). Do to a variety of circumstances, i did not continue at Kent State for that year of schooling, and never really got to use the software until a few years later when i was putting together my portfolio for graduate school. At which time, i went through the tutorials and learned the basics of the program in order to model one of my second year projects to include in the portfolio.

I started graduate school at the Ohio State University in 2000. We were encouraged to not use the computer for the majority of the first year of the three year program, and since i did not have any real affinity to the computer or a particular CAD package at the time, it was fairly easy for me to comply. I had been working in a small firm for four years at the time, and we were still drafting everything by hand with pencil on vellum. During my time at tOSU, i was introduced to a few different software packages for modeling and drafting. I gravitated towards FormZ and AutoCAD as my primary tools for producing presentation drawings when i was not doing the drawings by hand. I had just started my conversion to Mac at the time, which is why FormZ had a strong appeal to me (that and it is developed in Columbus, OHio). AutoCAD was primarily because we had started using it in limited capacity in the firm at which i was working, so i was somewhat familiar with it. And any additional skills i picked up at school would be directly translatable to my work place.

As AutoCAD was not available on the Mac platform at the time, i was trying to run it through Virtual PC, an emulator program. Though i would not readily admit it at the time, it really was painfully slow. But FormZ ran great on my PowerBook G3, though it did require a dongle in order to validate the license. So if i wanted to work on it, i had to make sure i not only had the computer, but the dongle as well.

As i graduated and went back to work full time, i moved to exclusively (well almost) working in AutoCAD. But more on that next time.


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