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21 Ways Architects Can Work Smarter, Not Harder

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In their day-to-day work, architects face a lot of distractions and challenges: managing clients, collaborators and contractors; keeping up to date with the latest software and technologies; drafting planning applications and paperwork; and if you're lucky, even getting to design some things in between. Originally published by ArchSmarter, this article offers 21 tips on how to maximize your productivity and minimize unnecessary work.

3 Reasons Why Excel is the Ultimate BIM Sidekick

This article was originally published by ArchSmarter.

Have you ever played the party game “telephone”? You know the one, where you tell something to the person next to you and they pass it on to the person next to them and so on down the line. Inevitably, your original message is badly mangled and misappropriated by the time it gets back to you. Everyone gets a good laugh at how far the end message is from your original one.

The 10 Best Revit Apps and Add-Ins

This article was originally published by ArchSmarter as "The 10 Revit Apps You Should Be Using in 2017."

I recently asked ArchSmarter readers what tools they’re using to be more productive in Revit. Over 75 different add-ins were recommended! I tallied up all the votes and came up with this list of top-ten recommendations. There are some repeat nominees from my previous round-ups (which you can read here and here) as well as some welcome newcomers.

So who made the cut? Here’s this year’s list of the top 10 Revit apps you should be using.

Are Your Revit Skills Up to Scratch? Find Out With This Handy Guide

When applying for architecture jobs, it's often necessary to self-evaluate your skill at various tasks. However, with many of these tasks--especially software--it can be difficult to give an accurate assessment since you often don't know what you don't know about the skill. This article, originally published by ArchSmarter as "Where Are You on the Path to Revit Mastery?" will help you come to an objective assessment of your skill level with one of the most complex and powerful pieces of software available.

BAM! I shook my head and peeled my sore body off the mat. “Good,” the instructor said, “Now try it again but with a little more force.” My partner grabbed my arm, twisted his hips and threw me to the mat again. BAM! Fortunately, I remembered to tuck in my chin so my head didn’t slam against the mat.

“Alright, a little better that time”, the instructor commented. “Do it another ten times then take a break. You both need to master this throw for your upcoming belt test.” Just as I started to groan, thinking about how sore I was going to be tomorrow, my partner grabbed my wrist again and tossed me over his hip. BAM!

Save Time With This Efficient Method For Managing Revit Templates

This article was originally published by ArchSmarter as "The Best Strategy for a Super Effective Revit Template."

The best thing about Revit templates is how much time they can save you. The worst thing about Revit templates is how much time they take to create.

It’s a bit of a catch-22. In order to save time, you need to spend time. It’s not easy to find that time when you have billable projects to work on and deadlines to meet. Believe me, I know.

And once you do finish the template, how often do you review it and keep it updated? What if you have a project that’s a new building-type? Does your template still work for that kind of building? What if you need to follow an owner’s BIM standard? Can you modify your template to fit their requirements?

The Ultimate Guide to Revit Shortcuts

This article was originally published on ArchSmarter.

For all the work you do in Revit, there’s a keyboard shortcut that can help you do it faster.

Here’s a roundup featuring some of my favorite Revit keyboard shortcuts to create and organize your model. Keep reading to learn how to create your own shortcuts.

This shortcut cheat sheet is also available in a convenient pdf form; simply sign up here to download it.

How to Create Animated GIFs in Revit

This article was originally posted on ArchSmarter.

ArchDaily recently posted an interesting article on using animated GIFs for architectural drawings. The article had some great examples but was short on details of how to actually create these images.

I was curious how to create animated GIFs using Revit so I looked into the process. It turns out it’s pretty easy, provided you’re systematic when creating your views and have access to photo-editing software, like PhotoShop. Want to try it yourself? Follow the steps below to create your own animated GIFs in Revit.

The Numbers Behind the Top 300

Last week, Architectural Record released their list of the top 300 Architecture Firms in the US, based on architectural revenue from 2015. But what can we learn from those numbers and the firms generating them? In this post for ArchSmarter, Michael Kilkelly dives deeper into the figures that have made these firms so successful, comparing numbers based on firm type, firm location and project location.

"The Archipreneur Concept": A Business Book That Brings Architecture Practice into the 21st Century

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Selgas Cano's office in Madrid. Image © Iwan Baan

This review of "The Archipreneur Concept" by Tobias Maescher was originally published on Archsmarter as "The Archipreneur Concept: A Review."

When I started my business almost four years ago, I read every business book I could get my hands on. Apart from a paper route in grade school, I didn’t have a business background. I hadn’t even taken any business classes in college. But after seeing many hardworking colleagues get laid off during the 2009 recession, I realized I wanted to call my own shots and be my own boss.

Needless to say, I had some catching up to do.

So I went to the library and the book store and got a stack of books on marketing, sales, and business finance. You name it, I read it. The problem was that I couldn’t always put these books into a context that made sense to me. I didn’t want to run a Fortune 500 business. I didn’t have a marketing team. I didn’t even know if I wanted to hire employees. I just wanted work for myself and build something of my own.

The 80-20 Rule: The Key to Producing Better Work in Less Time

This article was originally published on ArchSmarter as "How to Work Smarter with the 80-20 Rule."

“OK, let me see your list.” I was fresh out of architecture school and working on my first project as a designer. It was one week before our design Development Deadline. The project manager asked me to draw up a list of remaining design issues.

“Here are the ten things I have left,” I said as I handed over the list. “It was hard to prioritize them. They’re all really important.” I was fortunate to be working with an experienced project manager who, in addition to being extremely patient with me, saw it as her responsibility to mold and shape green architecture graduates into fully functioning architects. Not an easy task...

5 Reasons to Add Virtual Reality to Your Workflow

This article was originally published on ArchSmarter titled "5 Ways Virtual Reality Will Change Architecture."

Virtual Reality (VR) is about to change architecture forever, meaning that every firm needs to decide how it’s going to respond to those changes. That may sound like hyperbole, but 3D imaging and the benefits computers brought to the field pale in comparison to what VR brings.

Computer-generated images are, in many ways, an updated version of the hand-drawn renderings of the past. VR takes viewing models to a whole new level. Based on existing design software, it allows you to take 3D models and experience them in amazing new ways. So if your firm is thinking about whether or not to invest in VR technology now, here are a few reasons why you should stop considering and start changing how your architecture firm functions.

How to Convince Your Firm to Pay for Training

Young designers, fresh out of school, often have incredible potential to contribute to their new firm: with fresh skills and capabilities that may have passed by the company's older members, they are in an excellent position to make their mark. But maximizing this potential may require expensive training courses, and asking your firm for that opportunity can be daunting. In this article originally published on ArchSmarter, Michael Kilkelly recounts a tale from his own early years as an architect to demonstrate that getting your firm to pay for training may be simpler than most young architects imagine.

When I was a young architect, only a few years out of school, I became interested in 3D rendering. This was back in the mid-nineties so the technology was primitive compared to today. 3D Studio Max had just come out and my firm had a copy.

After work, I would play around with the software. I did a few renderings of the project I was working on as a way to learn the software. The project designer saw them and got excited.

5 Ways Computational Design Will Change the Way You Work

This article was originally published on ArchSmarter.

These days, nearly every architect uses a computer. Whether it’s for 3D modeling, documentation or even creating a program spreadsheet, computers are well entrenched within the profession. Architects now need to know almost as much about software as they do about structures, building codes, and design.

As our tools become more powerful and sophisticated, we need to evolve and develop our working methods in order to stay competitive. I’ve written previously about how architects should learn to code. A lot of the problems we need to solve don’t fall within the capabilities of off-the-shelf software. We need to tweak and customize our tools to work the way we work. Creating our own tools and software is one way to do this.

That said, the reality is that not everyone has the time or the inclination to learn how to code. It’s time-consuming and you’ve got projects to run, show drawings to review, and buildings to design. Fortunately there are new tools available that deliver the power of programming without the need for all that typing.

Enter computational design and visual programming.

5 Ways to Be More Productive and Achieve Your Goals

In this post originally published on ArchSmarter as "5 Ways to Work Smarter This Year," Michael Kilkelly follows up on his hugely successful article 21 Ways Architects Can Work Smarter, Not Harder with a refresher of things you can do to improve productivity and meet your goals.

We’re almost three full months into 2016. I don’t know about you but that optimistic rush from from the New Year is starting to peter out. I always begin the year with fire in my belly to get big things done. I’ve got a to-do list as long as my arm. I want to launch a bunch of new courses. I want to write a book. I want to design great projects for great clients.

The problem is that the real world has a way of interfering with those goals. There are deadlines to finish and bills to pay. All that time I thought I’d have is taken up with things I didn’t anticipate like snow days, sick kids, and unexpected out-of-town trips. How about you? Feeling the same way?

It’s that time of the year when you need to look at how you’re working and make adjustments so you can crush those goals. With that in mind, here are 5 ways you can pull yourself out of the winter doldrums and work smarter this year.

6 Essential Time Management Tips for Architects

It's a familiar story: with so much work to do and architecture's client-focused nature, many architects struggle to divide up their time effectively. But did you know that there are some simple time management techniques that might appeal to your architect mindset? In this post originally published on ArchSmarter, Michael Kilkelly shares some techniques such as designing your time and learning to effectively single-task that might help you to take control.

Has this ever happened to you?

You get to work and review your to-do list. You’ve got a deadline in a few days and you’re ready to get some stuff done. But before you dive in, you take a quick look at your email. In your inbox you find an email from a client asking for a quick study of one area of the building. “I’ll take care of this right away” you say to yourself. “It shouldn’t take long.”

Five hours, three phone calls and six emails later, you reply back to the client with the information they requested. It’s now early afternoon and you’re ready to get to work. But you take another quick look at your email and see that the client is now asking for you to look at another option. Two hours, one phone call and three emails later, you email back. “Thanks,” they reply. “Let’s just stick to the original option.”

It’s now early evening and you haven’t gotten a single thing done off your to-do list. You still have a deadline in a few days and there’s a stack of drawings next to you just begging to be reviewed. Looks like another late night and vending machine dinner.

How can you avoid a similar fate? Here are 6 essential time management tips for the busy architect.

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Why Sketchbooks Still Rule in a Digital World

In his articles for ArchSmarter, Michael Kilkelly comes across as something of a technophile: some of his favorite topics include Revit macros, coding, Excel, automation and... Moleskine? In this article, originally published on ArchSmarter as "Why I Still Use a Sketchbook," Kilkelly explains why despite all the technology, sketchbooks remain one of the most important tools at his disposal.

I was in a full panic.

I got to the hotel when realized I left my sketchbook in the cab. I was freaking out. I called the cab company and explained, with a mounting sense of urgency, what happened.

“You forgot your sketchbook? What’s that? Some kind of laptop?”
“No,” I explained. “It’s a notebook with good paper. I sketch in it. You know, with a pen.”
“Why don’t you just use an iPad?”
“But I like to draw. I like the feel of the paper and it never runs out of batteries” I replied.
“Whatever. I’ve got a great sketching app on my iPad. Plus like a thousand games. And I can read the newspaper. And check my email...”

7 Ways to Be a More Effective Architect

As every architect knows by now, the profession has a problem with its work culture. Incubated in universities and perpetuated once graduates reach practice, the tendency to overwork is currently the subject of much discussion - but while there may be hints that change is afoot, it's unlikely to take place overnight. In the meantime, what can a stressed-out architect do to reduce their work hours to something more reasonable? Originally published by ArchSmarter, this post explores how to become a more effective architect - allowing you to win back some of that lost time by maximizing efficiency and minimizing unnecessary work.

“What’s that smudge in the middle of your drawing? Is that part of your concept?” the juror asked me.

“Um... ” I replied as I squinted at the drawing. “I think that’s from my nose. I haven’t slept in like... two days. I konked out while I was coloring,” I answered sheepishly.

“Good for you,” the juror said. “Nothing like an all-nighter to make you feel alive. It’s good practice for when you’re out working in the real world.”

How to Drastically Improve Your Architectural Renderings

These days, the production of architectural renderings is something of a digital arms race, as the more sophisticated visualization becomes, the more of a disservice you do to your designs if you're not able to present clients with increasingly photo-realistic imagery. In this post, originally published by ArchSmarter as the first in their "Pro Smarts" series which features tips and tricks from seasoned professionals, Jonn Kutyla from PiXate Creative describes his seven-step process for creating more realistic renders.

Creating photo-realistic architectural renderings requires careful planning and attention to detail. Adding minor details to your renderings can be time consuming, but it is certainly worthwhile. Some of the smallest details have the greatest impact on the realism of the rendering. Today we’re going to focus on the site around your building. This isn’t going to be a tutorial for specific software, but rather a guide to using nature to make your renderings more believable.

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