Magazine article Sunset

High-Tech Home Design

Magazine article Sunset

High-Tech Home Design

Article excerpt

YOU HIRE ARCHITECTS NOT FOR the tools they use but for the talent and imagination they demonstrate. Nevertheless, the ubiquity and increasing sophistication of computer-aided design software, known as CAD, have changed how many architects work. Now they can respond much faster to changing client requirements and can encourage greater client participation in design.

Computer-savvy architect Terry Beaubois of Palo Alto, California, used CAD to design Sharon and Hal Upjohn's two-story home in Portola Valley. Hal says that using an architect so proficient with CAD software made getting through the permit process easier. The computer-generated designs were visually persuasive and easily altered, allowing the Upjohns to quickly address review committee concerns about color choices and roof heights. The couple met regularly with Beaubois and his partner and enjoyed the speed, maneuverability, and freedom of choice that CAD allows.

The most sophisticated CAD software programs offer much greater degrees of clarity and flexibility than traditional architectural drawings can provide. For example, recent upgrades to a program called ArchiCAD allow the architect to work on detail drawings of a building in the same file as the complete three-dimensional plan of that building, rather than having to jump between files. The architect can incorporate your suggested changes to a particular detail, then use the redraw command, and--presto!--all the detail drawings and the plan will be updated to reflect those changes. Also, the architect can click on an object, determine its height, then change it, simply by replacing the number.

Computer design programs can allow an architect to realistically illustrate spaces, colors, materials, and textures. For example, some programs will let you view your proposed deck from all angles and see the grain of its wood planks; some will let you see your dream home as it might appear on your selected site; and some will even show you what your living room could look like at dusk on a particular day in late September. …

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