I love that old saying “those who can’t do, teach”. I actually do AND teach. For the last two years I’ve been teaching Autocad (from intro to advanced) at a local community college in St. Augustine. But, this semester, I get a new challenge – teaching Principles of Architectural Design – a.k.a. “hand drafting”.
This is VERY exciting for me. I first started learning hand drafting, technical drafting, in my senior year of high school. It was something I took to naturally and really enjoyed. This was critical to my early success in college. As you can imagine though, architectural education in the last 10-15 years has mostly centered around computer aided drafting, instead of hand drafting – technology makes the world go round after all.
I began learning autocad in 1999 with release R-12 and have followed each new release since (pushing 12 years experience with autocad now), but hand drafting was still what I was more comfortable with, so most of my projects were done by hand. This included plans, elevations, perspectives, renderings, etc. As I moved through my studio classes it became increasingly difficult to continue producing hand drawn graphics for my critiques, so I was forced to hone my skills in CAD and other 3D platforms to more rapidly produce final products for critique. I began thinking, even back then, that the art of hand drafting was being lost in education and became convinced of this when I began practicing in early 2004 and realized that I would probably never again do any hand drawings as an intern. In order to survive as an intern I had to ramp up with CAD very quickly, and I did. But I still maintained my drafting table/sketch books at home.
Hand drafting and sketching are invaluable tools for an architect/designer or someone wanting to practice in the field. Hand drafting teaches you in a tactile way how to visually represent a building with 3 dimensional qualities in a 2 dimensional medium. With CAD you use color to represent line weight (i.e. depth and drawing hierarchy), but if you don’t understand what line weight really is how can you accurately draft what you’re tasked to?
So, it’s going to be an exciting semester. I plan on torturing my students from the very beginning with lettering – OH THE HORROR! 😉 It’s going to be so much fun to see the completely defeated look on their faces when they realize the work that goes into a quality hand drafted architectural drawing, and additionally that they can’t yet reach that bar of quality. But in the end, I hope, they’ll have a greater and more profound understanding of the HOW of architectural drafting, which in turn will make them better at computer aided drafting and will lead to much less frustration in my other classes. 😛