Your Architecture Office Could Be Working Smarter, Not Harder with These Productivity Tools
Architectural culture is firmly one of hard work and long hours.
Whether it’s because of an upcoming deadline or just the way of the creative process, architects are notorious for spending all day and night in the studio. So many generations of architects have perpetuated this standard that it has become something of a rite of passage.
But what if architects could still create amazing designs and execute projects without the exhaustive (literally) effort?
As luck would have it, we’re living in a modern world, and the tech industry is as innovative as ever, bringing an unending stream of software, apps, and tools to market that can help architects increase efficiency and reduce daily stressors.
Implement the tools explained below in your architecture office, and you’ll have your architectural staff working smarter and faster than they can pin up the latest design charrette.
ArchiOffice — For Architectural Project Management
While there is a lot of project management software on the market, not all are designed specifically for the practice of architecture.
ArchiOffice, however, is B.A.F.A. – that’s ‘by architects, for architects,’ making it the most useful tracking tool for any architectural firm.
With features that support Key Performance Indicators like time logs, billing and project reporting by architectural project phase, ArchiOffice streamlines your business organization and provides quick insight into how your architecture office is performing.
Take the complication out of managing the business and projects, provide more transparency into your practice and get the statistics that you can use to inform your decision-making better.
ArchToolBox — For Looking Up Standards and Technical Information
Much of an architect’s time is spent on design research, throughout all phases of a project.
Whether it is regarding design precedents, zoning, codes, material properties or drawing details, suffice it to say that there is an abundance of data out there that informs the development of a project.
ArchToolBox consolidates architectural technical information so that you can easily navigate to the details you need. The centralized resource contains need-to-know characteristics of building components, building codes and many architectural standards, such as abbreviations and drawing symbols.
So instead of spending hours in typing search terms into Google and sorting through websites one-by-one to find the information you need, turn to ArchToolBox and get the right answers faster.
Bluebeam Revu — For Digital Shop-Drawing and Submittal Review
Gone are the days when contractors used to send architects three physical copies of submittals for their review and markup and here to stay are digital submittals.
The modern architecture office is now annotating shop drawings in Bluebeam Revu: PDF-editing software that offers markup features not available with Adobe Acrobat Pro.
With architecture-specific critical editing elements like dimensioning, Bluebeam Revu facilitates red-lining on a computer or device. Additional relevant features to architects are lineweight display, object snap, and plugins for AutoCAD, Revit, Sketchup, among a boatload of other intelligent features.
Bonanza Background Burner — For Fast Image-Editing for Renderings
One consistent time-suck in any architecture office is editing out backgrounds from an image that you plan on using in a presentation or rendering.
Using Photoshop is the standard method, but now with Bonanza Background Burner all you have to do is upload your image and in return, you will receive the image with a white or transparent background. Voila!
Zamzar — For File-Type Conversions
.dwg, .psd, .ai, .doc, .xls, .jpeg, .png, .pdf, and .3dm, etc. is the list of file extensions commonly found in an architectural project computer folder.
Architects consistently use multiple digital platforms when designing, and while many of them are compatible, a lot of them aren’t. Occasionally, you find that you want or need to open one file type in software that doesn’t support it, forcing you to go back and spend time converting the original file so that it becomes compatible with your needs.
Converting files on one’s own is not always a straightforward process, but Zamzar allows you to easily convert file extensions through their website. They then email you the converted file so that you can save it and continue working – no more racking your brain to figure out what extension a file can be converted to and how to convert it.
Rebump — For Follow-up Communication
Since architecture is a collaborative industry, architects always communicate with their clients, engineers, consultants, contractors, vendors and colleagues.
Having documentation of directives or decisions is a critical component of project tracking, and so architects frequently use email as their principal means of communication with their collaborators.
But with everyone involved busy working on multiple projects, it’s often the case that emails go unanswered or not replied to within the needed timeframe. In a business where time is always of the essence, architects find themselves spending more time chasing down answers than they do design.
Rebump is an extension for your Chrome browser that links to your email and will automatically send nice follow-up emails to your contacts if you enable the feature on your outgoing message and do not receive a response to your initial email. What’s even cooler is that each time Rebump sends a follow-up email, it moves your original message up to the top of your recipient’s inbox. Say no more excuses that your email got lost in someone’s inbox.
PlanGrid — For Construction Drawing Updates
It’s the unfortunate truth that, during construction, unforeseen issues arise that require updates to the construction drawing set.
Since the execution of the final design relies on whether the contractor is working off of the most current designs, as the architect you want to be certain that any drawing updates not only get in their hands as soon as possible but that there can be no doubt as to which drawing has superseded another.
PlanGrid is an incredible tool that not only organizes construction documents but makes it clear to communicate any changes to your contractor. One of PlanGrid’s best features is that it allows drawing sheets to be overlain so that changes are readily apparent. It also simplifies the tasks of explaining punch list items and receiving as-built drawings.