Apple & Architects

Posted:
in General Discussion edited January 2014
Does anyone else think it sadly incongruent that architects who prefer the Mac don't have the same array of choices as PC-using architects?



Given the Mac's reputation as the "creator's platform" and the special attraction designers have to it (see this <a href="http://www.archrecord.com/DIGITAL/features/feature1201/feature1201.asp"; target="_blank">article</a>), wouldn't you think the Mac would be the premier platform for architects, just as it's quickly becoming the platform for digital video?



Admittedly, I know nothing about architecture on the Mac, aside from the fact that VectorWorks is a very viable solution for CAD needs. However, AutoCAD is conspicuously missing. With Apple making strides into new markets, might this change?



Steve has always emphasized strength and elegance in design, and his need for this, I'm sure, has manifested most recently (architecturally) in his involvement in the design of Pixar's new headquarters. Here's the kicker, though: according to the above article, the very firm responsible for the new HQ's design, Bohlin Cywinski Jackson, is moving away from Macs. This is a firm that lists among its clients Apple, NeXT, and Pixar (not to mention Bill Gates. See Architosh's brief about Bill Gates' house being designed on Macs).



If Mac OS X is beginning to infiltrate Pixar, what moves might Apple make for it to begin courting the architectural community, as small as it might be?
«13

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 56
    buonrottobuonrotto Posts: 6,368member
    Problem was, Bohlin Cywinski Jackson (very good firm, BTW) used MicroStation on Macs. AutoCAD was never that popular on Macs, but Bentley's decision to dump Macs hurt Apple a lot. They are a big firm now and they need the network and infrastructure that Macs always appeared as second-class citizens in. You could argue that the situation is different with OS X, but it will take more time to change this perception: ther is always this delayed reaction like that in business. The other problem is that unlike other creative professions, architects have this whole business-like IT department setup.



    We went from Novell servers running workstations to exclusively Dell PCs with Dell servers because that's all most IT personnel know. We have terrible problems with color fidelity on various printing services, and I've only recently gotten through to IT and the architects about the benefits of PDF creation. Just dealing with digital cameras makes me dream about having iPhoto on everyone's desktop. We've been using a fairly popular European CAD package for years, but for some unknown reason ,despite even the IT department's insistence that we find a next-gen tool to use, we're slowly regressing to using AutoCAD because most of the individuals who come to work for us know it. On one hand, everyone is looking for the next Great Thing? but on the other, most of these so-called creative professionals only know AutoCAD and are lost with anything else (which is beyond me since all these 2D CAD packages are so similar). This forces the issue with AutoCAD when it's clearly an inferior product. It's a money issue: the firm doesn't want to pay to train anyone, and this is true all over. They've been doing it for a long time, but they're sick of doing it, especially in a tight market.



    The IT department knows that Macs are much more expensive (without actually contacting Apple about their bid and bundle prices which are surprisingly competitive) and ignore the option despite the fact that we have out Graphics department working on Macs. Macs do come up when we complain about our printing problems, and the fact that we use software that's been written primarily for the Mac on our Dells. People just assume it's out of the question, that they're too expensive. It's ironic that everyone who can be considered a graphics/3D expert in our ranks has a Mac at home. Hell, even our firm owners use G4s with Cinema Displays at home!



    Architects are really a split community: the statistical majority work in big corporate firms and treat it like a business. There are a lot more small boutique firms that treat the profession as a more creative endeavor, and those are the ones with strong Mac presence. BCJ, while clearly a good architecture firm, has moved into the former arena. Where architects used to make computing decisions, they have IT professionals doing that now. I also think architects are more susceptible to the popular = better fallacy. Hence AutoCAD's continued perception as the dominant industry tool when it really is the worst of the bunch, and about to get left behind (which is why AutoDesk recent purchased Revit).



    Apple simply hasn't aggressively pursued the architecture arena. We have Form Z, ArchiCAD, BOA, VectorWorks, Maya, etc. We have most of the right tools, they're ahead of their time if most of the architecture world is stuck with AutoCAD. Apple can only do so much against the attitude that carries AutoCAD to this day: it's what everyone is supposed to know. Most people who have learned CAD have learned AutoCAD at some point. The people who didn't grow up with computers know one thing, and only one thing. They have a terrible time moving to any other apps even with intensive training. These people have great difficulties with Word let alone another CAD program. Their interest is piqued when I use something like Form Z ,they say they want to learn it, then they dabble for ten minutes and decide they don't want to bother.



    My college uses Form Z, 3D MAX, and a bunch of other applications for architectural design on computers (we still do a lot of hand-drawing too) in labs with 1/2 Macs and 1/2 PCs. But everyone has to have AutoCAD on their resumes, and they all go take an AutoCAD course during a summer or in another college just to have it there. Until architects can do something about the overriding complacency in their older workforces who either refuse or are unable to work in other software (basic Word can be a challenge for these people), there's only so Much Apple can do.



    Sorry for the rambling....
  • Reply 2 of 56
    ryukyuryukyu Posts: 448member
    <a href="http://www.apple.com/education/hed/academia/creative/architecture.html"; target="_blank">Architecture at Apple</a>



    Maybe this is an attempt to move in that direction?
  • Reply 3 of 56
    applenutapplenut Posts: 5,768member
    BuonRotto,



    Perhps you could give me a few pointers and some info. I'm considering an architectural engineering major. Can you just tll me what that involves, if and how it is different from maybe normal architecture and something like civil engineering. Do you need to be artistic?



    I've always loved architecture and buildings since I was a baby. Legos, KNEX, etc... anything I could build something with. Then I got into computers but I keep coming back to the architecture thing.



    I just don't know if I meet the requirements for an architect <img src="graemlins/hmmm.gif" border="0" alt="[Hmmm]" />
  • Reply 4 of 56
    buonrottobuonrotto Posts: 6,368member
    Architectural engineering has little to do with architecture as a profession, that is, in a traditional sense. It is a branch of engineering that deals with building systems, for example, the electrical/lighting, mechanical/ventilation, civil/geology and structural. Unlike more specific mechanical and civil engineering studies, it concerns itself more with a more holistic approach of designing and coordinating these systems together in the building envelope. I would assume that it concerns itself more with user factors than "pure" engineering is taught. Architectural engineering is basically designing the stuff in the architecture you don't see for the most part.



    I don't consider it a "creative" discipline in the sense of architecture proper or other fine arts. You don't submit a creative/artistic portfolio to get into architectural engineering programs, and the programs are not tied into architecture programs or colleges. Architectural engineers in college might have an architecture elective requirement, but architects have no requirements in architectural engineering.



    Architecture education in the US is based on the 19th century French tradition of the beaux arts. In other words, it's considered a fine art and is typically (but not always) near the fine arts programs literally and in curriculum. Architects usually have a ton of fine arts elective requirements. The better programs place their main emphasis on design studios and open critiques where you defend your work in front of your peers and professors/guests. Their main tool for choosing applicants is a creative portfolio. The creative portfolio just means an artistic portfolio, not specifically an architectural portfolio. The difference is important for them at least. They're not looking for building designs (they look down at high school drafting courses), they're looking for creative skills and ideas in your work. For example, my high school portfolio was entirely independent art projects, some of which were "architectural" but not buildings per se. Another woman I went to school had a student portfolio of piercing designs and tattoos.



    IMO, an architecture degree is probably the most versatile education you can get though. The best programs teach the practice of self-criticism and thinking skills: analysis, logic, conceptual and holistic/synthetic thinking as much as how to design buildings. (Note also that I avoid the phrase "building buildings." Architects don't build buildings, so representation and communication is a critical part of the curriculum.)



    It takes at least five years to get a "professional" (i.e., accredited) degree in architecture. There are undergraduate programs that will earn you either a BFA or a BS, but then you have to go to graduate school to get a professional degree. (Well, you can skip getting a professional degree but it means you have to work in an an architecture firm for about 12-15 years before you can take your licensing exams.)



    Now, you might be interested in programs like *cough*shameless plug*cough* <a href="http://www.graphics.cornell.edu/"; target="_blank">Cornell's Department of Computer Graphics</a>. It's technically a graduate program in Cornell's College of Engineering, but the program director was an architect and he uses a lot of undergraduate help in research primarily geared towards architectural applications of computer technology. This is the place responsible for solid modeling, CUSeeMe and global illumination. Don Greenberg does a lot of their work in undergraduate architecture studios too.



    Let me know if I missed any point, or if you have any questions.
  • Reply 5 of 56
    soulcrushersoulcrusher Posts: 587member
    My mother just spent US $4000+ in a Dell so she could run AutoCAD on it.



    If there was a Mac version of the program I would have convinced my mother of buying a Dual Gig with a Cinema Display. Btu there isn't so I couldn't stop her from gettin the Dell.
  • Reply 6 of 56
    buonrottobuonrotto Posts: 6,368member
    IMO, the demand for AutoCAD on Macs is as absurd as the demand for Mac OS on Intel. It simply isn't forward-looking at all. Granted, given that architects are simply overwhelmed by computers (either too enthusiastic and ignorant or too cynical and scared), I'm not surprised.



    It's comparable to how high schools have justified the use of Windows and Office 2000 by saying, "They need to learn what is being used in the workplace." Sounds smart enough, but in 2-6 years, they won't be using Office 2000. You have to teach and learn what's going to be in the office. By the time AutoCAD would show up for Macs again, it should be about 2 years too late. But then again, software advancement in architectural practice (as opposed to education) is glacially slow anyway.



    BTW, so there's no confusion, this post had nothing to do with soulcrusher's above.[ 06-09-2002: Message edited by: BuonRotto ]



    [ 06-10-2002: Message edited by: BuonRotto ]</p>
  • Reply 7 of 56
    drewpropsdrewprops Posts: 2,321member
    Yeah, I watched a boutique firm for whom I am a consultant move off of the Mac platform about two years ago. The brand new CFO ordered the change and it really made me angry at the time, but the reality is that most of the guys didn't give two hoots and a holler about the platform they were running...they just wanted Microstation to haul ass.



    The fact that they could get Gateway boxes cheaply combined with Bentley's announcement that they'd no longer be supporting the Mac helped drive that decision.



    The resulting flood of virus warnings, increased file-sharing problems and driver issues was a soothing balm to me as I hung onto my Mac for design purposes. The company's graphic designer kept her Mac but is rarely granted upgrades even though she's the one who puts a face on the company every time reports are created or new literature is requested.



    My advice to those going into architecture is this:



    If you already inherently understand architecture...if you live it, sleep it, breathe it...try going to one of the top five DESIGN colleges in the country. Computer skills can be learned later, design skills and sensibilities will take you farther if you have the DRIVE to be a designer. That road is long and hard and design jobs are few between. Established firms already have their designers, and those people aren't about to hand you a design job if they can help it. They love being designers and they'll fight to keep their jobs. Expect that and understand that it's that way in any field...it's natural, so don't get angry. Just become a better designer and hustle...eventually you'll find your work and it will find you.



    If you want to be a good designer you've got to know CAD, but if you ONLY know CAD chances are that you'll be consigned to being a CAD monkey...someone who only does drawings and never has a chance to do fundamental design. To go farther, learn to work in Form?Z and other similar modeling applications. Know how to work and think in three dimensions.



    Most importantly, pay attention in your history classes....it's a remarkable craft and those who've gone before you will amaze you with the solutions that they applied to the design challenges that faced them.



    Oh yeah, forget about ever sleeping again.



    Drew
  • Reply 8 of 56
    buonrottobuonrotto Posts: 6,368member
    People were impressed that I could move from platform to platform and software to software in my current work. I can do it because I understand the common concepts among them. You need a design background to do that.



    After design, history was easily the most important part of my education. You'll learn about a hell of a lot more than just architecture in those courses.



    Architecture is a great device to learn about culture and a web of connections of people and events.



    Also, look for a good architectural library. 99% of what you'll be trying to do has been done before and better. The best favor you can do for yourself is to learn how to learn. That's why architects can be so versatile.



    BTW, Andrew Stone of Stone Design is an architect. (He might not technically be one anymore if he's let his registration lapse.)
  • Reply 9 of 56
    drewpropsdrewprops Posts: 2,321member
    Agreed.



    Among the most important things I left college with were:



    1. Learning how to Learn.

    2. Learning how to take criticism and use it to my advantage.

    3. Learning how to survive without sleep.



    That second one on my list is probably THE most important social skill that I have in my arsenal. At the end of design projects you are subjected to a JURY by various learned people, primarily architects. They ask you questions about your project, and if they are a particularly vicious bunch they'll gang up on you like a pack of wolves, exposing your project's flaws to the world. After years of that experience you develop a thick skin and can differentiate between personal attacks and technical questions regarding your design decisions. The experience makes you a more rounded person if you have the character to LEARN from it....see #1.



    Drew
  • Reply 10 of 56
    My GF in in architecture school, and I can tell you that despite a virtual univeral admiration of Apple aesthetics, The universal concensus seems to be: "No AutoCad for the Mac."



    End of discussion.
  • Reply 11 of 56
    frawgzfrawgz Posts: 547member
    This discussion has turned out to be an interesting one, and it's been cool to see that some of the AI regulars here actually are architects or have experience in that area.



    The consensus seems to be that AutoCAD is sort of a Microsoft Office of the CAD/architecture world. Does anyone think that a standardized file format would alleviate this any? Do the other CAD programs have the ability to open AutoCAD files?



    Edit: P.S. Architosh reports that Bentley is not opposed to making a Mac version of their product. What they really need is to be shown that there is a demand - in other words, bang down their door for a Mac version. I know that a|w put out a probe asking Mac users if they'd be interested in Maya before they ported it over. Given Apple's own interest in improving the Mac's presence in the 3D market, do you think they gave a|w a little tap in that direction first, or were we just lucky enough to have them peer in our direction when the time was right?



    [ 06-12-2002: Message edited by: frawgz ]</p>
  • Reply 12 of 56
    buonrottobuonrotto Posts: 6,368member
    [quote]Originally posted by frawgz:

    <strong>The consensus seems to be that AutoCAD is sort of a Microsoft Office of the CAD/architecture world. Does anyone think that a standardized file format would alleviate this any? Do the other CAD programs have the ability to open AutoCAD files?</strong><hr></blockquote>



    .dwg files are the de facto standard for architectural drawing file format. .dxf files are supposed to be a "standard" file format to transfer with other apps (that AutoDesk controls and changes the format arbitrarily), but they lose a lot of info in the translation process and are really large files generally. Most apps do a good job keeping up with the changes AutoDesk makes to their .dwg format, so lots of apps do a good job importing them, and often make patches for their apps to read more recent versions. But the process of translating the .dwgs is always a game of catch-up since it's AutoDesks's proprietary format (and why would they want to chang ethat?), and the data itself needs careful attention to get the correct result when translating. Line weight, color, fills, orientation, closed lines and polylines and 3D info all have to be considered each time.



    A standard file format would help a lot. This is true for a lot of file types. As Apple points out in the Switch campaign, having standard file formats even the playing field. But obviously AutoDesk would want no part in that since they control the game right now.



    [quote]Edit: P.S. Architosh reports that Bentley is not opposed to making a Mac version of their product. What they really need is to be shown that there is a demand - in other words, bang down their door for a Mac version.<hr></blockquote>



    Great. I haven't used MicroStation since about 1997, but then it was pound-for-pound the best CADD package out there. I've heard raves for Triforma unlike Architectural Desktop, though again it's sort of a stop-gap measure until true next-gen tools are ready for prime time. I should do more homework about the Bentley situation. They had a huge following on the Mac side, and had to stop development when Apple looked like it was about to go under, plus the Intergraph fiasco meant they had to regroup and limit their reach in the meantime.
  • Reply 13 of 56
    It's sad that architects/students believe that they need to know AutoCad in order to get a job, but it's true. School is where the problem really starts...where there is only a single CAD package available for students to use.



    I've tried to make the case to my IT department that architecture schools should not be turning out trained CAD drafters but free thinking designers, but that argument is hard to back up when firms have students take CAD tests. Schools should really have multiple applications for students to experiment with...
  • Reply 14 of 56
    buonrottobuonrotto Posts: 6,368member
    Some schools do have a fair variety of apps to use, but they're rarely actual 2D drafting ones. They're almost always 3D modeling apps, at least in the top schools. They run Form Z, Maya, 3D MAX (or VIZ occasionally), even their own proprietary stuff. Since the people who do the hiring are often afraid of or intimidated by CAD, they think everyone has to come out of school with this specific knowledge. They figure there's no way they could pick it up at that point, right?
  • Reply 15 of 56
    cowerdcowerd Posts: 579member
    .DWG files are the defacto standard for most Publicworks jobs, hence the massive use of ACAD--that and consultants tend to drive that standard for file exchange. SOM had to hire a bunch of CAD jockeys for the SFIA job--a real disaster of biblical proportions for those managing CAD production.



    Autodesk fscks with the .DWG format regularly, and the modelspace, paperspace stuff never seems to translate well, nor do .xrefs, even in ArchiCAD and Vectorworks. Its also a horrendous program UI wise--most people who are happy in ACAD do most of their drfting through the command line.



    The question of knowing CAD and 3D seems to be assumed these days--even Autodesk keeps trying to make ACAD into a 3D generation environment. What ever you think of the curvyboys [Gregg Lynn etc] that sort of 3D skill seems to be expected from grads.



    Many of Cornells arch ugrads seem to be turning up in very computer intensive places. And they are not formally taught ACAD or any 3D stuff--its total immersion learning--sink or swim.
  • Reply 16 of 56
    buonrottobuonrotto Posts: 6,368member
    [quote]Originally posted by cowerd:

    <strong>Many of Cornells arch ugrads seem to be turning up in very computer intensive places. And they are not formally taught ACAD or any 3D stuff--its total immersion learning--sink or swim.</strong><hr></blockquote>



    &lt;horn&gt;toot&lt;/horn&gt;



    Although I'm not sure my firm qualifies as computer-intensive, at least not in a really progressive way. <img src="graemlins/hmmm.gif" border="0" alt="[Hmmm]" />
  • Reply 17 of 56
    timotimo Posts: 353member
    [quote]Originally posted by cowerd:

    Autodesk fscks with the .DWG format regularly, and the modelspace, paperspace stuff never seems to translate well, nor do .xrefs, even in ArchiCAD and Vectorworks. Its also a horrendous program UI wise--most people who are happy in ACAD do most of their drfting through the command line.<hr></blockquote>



    That's exactly it. Translation. I spent the better part of two hours today getting my engineer consultant's ACAD2000 drawings working in my r.14 environment. (I run r.14 in Virtual PC, and it no more crashes than it did on a Wintel.) The problem this time was with the xrefs. I had to teach the engineer about binding. Since a major part of an architect's job is coordination, we are really stuck needing to be able to work with our consultant's drawings.



    Say what people will, Autocad is OK as a 2D drafting platform, and most structural, mechanical and HVAC engineers work in 2D. Knowing thirty-odd commands on the keyboard means you can draft fast, and for many years Autocad was more precise than other CAD packages, at least in my experience.



    As long as the majority of architectural work remains centered on the extrusion of 2D plans, Autocad will be just as viable a platform as the rest. But if the world of object-oriented CAD ever took off, this would spell Autocad's doom, since its 3D environment is so painful and clooged together.



    I personally have been working with VectorWorks, trying to move away from Autocad and its outmode, outdated platform. But when the chips are down and I need to get the drawings out, I prefer working in an environment that, though flawed, has flaws I understand. VectorWorks, though a good program in scope, just has too many basic problems: display issues, precision issues, goofy menu pulldown hierarchies.



    What I would do for a command line!
  • Reply 18 of 56
    timotimo Posts: 353member
    [quote]Originally posted by 1seaside1:

    It's sad that architects/students believe that they need to know AutoCad in order to get a job, but it's true. School is where the problem really starts...where there is only a single CAD package available for students to use.

    <hr></blockquote>



    Schools, IMHO, shouldn't teach cad at all. They should teach design. College doesn't teach you Microsoft Office: architecture school should likewise stay away from the training course approach. Too often teaching the tool becomes instruction merely about the tool, and not what the tool is supposed to help accomplish.



    At my school Autocad instruction was combined with a computer theory course, trying to keep an eye on the larger intersection of technology with spatial representation.



    Again, it's my opinion that people should concentrate on what schools do well, which is to teach design, and to expose students to questions that one could take the next ten years trying to answer. If one is stuck w/o any autocad training, a quick night course, combined with a few months on the job will solve the problem.



    I know autocad pretty well, and I can tell you knowing it too well is also a liability. Better to know hand drawing well...it will serve one better in the long run.
  • Reply 19 of 56
    [quote]Originally posted by frawgz:

    <strong>Does anyone else think it sadly incongruent that architects who prefer the Mac don't have the same array of choices as PC-using architects?



    Given the Mac's reputation as the "creator's platform" and the special attraction designers have to it (see this <a href="http://www.archrecord.com/DIGITAL/features/feature1201/feature1201.asp"; target="_blank">article</a>), wouldn't you think the Mac would be the premier platform for architects, just as it's quickly becoming the platform for digital video?



    Admittedly, I know nothing about architecture on the Mac, aside from the fact that VectorWorks is a very viable solution for CAD needs. However, AutoCAD is conspicuously missing. With Apple making strides into new markets, might this change?



    Steve has always emphasized strength and elegance in design, and his need for this, I'm sure, has manifested most recently (architecturally) in his involvement in the design of Pixar's new headquarters. Here's the kicker, though: according to the above article, the very firm responsible for the new HQ's design, Bohlin Cywinski Jackson, is moving away from Macs. This is a firm that lists among its clients Apple, NeXT, and Pixar (not to mention Bill Gates. See Architosh's brief about Bill Gates' house being designed on Macs).



    If Mac OS X is beginning to infiltrate Pixar, what moves might Apple make for it to begin courting the architectural community, as small as it might be?</strong><hr></blockquote>



    One hopes that Steve's experience with BCJ may have made an impact on him and hopefully he realizes that the architectural market is quite large, not small.



    [ 06-14-2002: Message edited by: Anthony Frausto-Robledo, B.Arch. ]</p>
  • Reply 20 of 56
    Thing is real Architects don't use drafting software. They use paper and pencil. You think Renzo bothers with a fscking computer to draw his plans? No. Real Architects use a computer for business. Renzo's office uses Macs for that. I don't know what they use for CAD but I'll find out.
Sign In or Register to comment.