Using the Right Tool for the Job

By Eric Manahan

“If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.” - Abraham Maslow

Working at IKB I have been fortunate enough to have been given a wonderful arsenal of tools at my disposal.  AutoCAD for fine details, Revit for comprehensive projects, Rhino for organic forms, and Photoshop for last minute image manipulations.

These tools can create a cohesive workflow that all begin with the same nutritional source: an idea.  This idea can come in the form of a sketch, reference image, or even hand gesture.  In my experience, a typical workflow looks something like this:

The tricky part, I find, is choosing the right program for the job.  Yes, AutoCAD can get you a complete set of CD drawings, but what happens when you have a series of changes you know will inevitably come?  You have then created a time sink.  A situation of changing every drawing multiple times, over and over again.  This project sounds like it wants to be done in Revit, where changes can be made on the fly, and the result can be seen throughout the entire file.

A single vent component seen in 3D, Plan, and Section, through Revit

What if you are given a complicated detail that needs to be drawn quickly in 2D for a consultant?  Do you put time into making a 3D model, cutting a section, making it 2D?  No, send that task to AutoCAD.

An intricate wall section, ideal for AutoCAD

What if a client is asking for a parametrically designed wall installation, with undulating organic forms, what then?  Revit would take days, and AutoCAD may be near impossible.  I’m thinking Rhino, with maybe a dash of Grasshopper thrown in the mix.

An organic parametric design from Rhino and Grasshopper

What I’ve learned, is something I stubbornly chose to ignore when my father told me so many years ago: “Use the right tool for the job.”

All these programs are powerful assets to us.  None better or worse than the last.  It’s on us as architects to apply them correctly and bring out their full potential.