Architectural Desktop is here!
It is a long journey from architecture school to an active practice, and we all do it differently. From differences in cultures, regions, schools, experience, and personal perceptions it becomes clear that while the bidding and construction process is controlled by an industry, an architect’s approach to the built world, society, and his clients is intensely personal and hard to generalize from one architect to another.

No wonder that many a firm, comfortable with their drawing skills, has had to be dragged by their clients, kicking and screaming into the straight jacket of of cadd, where computer program limitations threaten design freedom and inhibit expression. In many (especially larger) firms, this sentiment has lingered among principals, so that many an aspiring designer has been wary of being too handy with the computer, at the risk of limiting professional advancement.

Documentation of the design has long been the major focus of the leading cad programs. Recently, modeling in the computer has become a practical reality during the conceptual design phase. Despite this, our industry has not had the tools which revolutionized mechanical design processes. We have not had software which grasped design intent, parametric relationships, and the ability to constantly refine without having to redo things from the start.

With the Architectural Desktop from Autodesk, the computer now becomes a tool better fitted to the hand of everyone in the design firm. That this has happened is the happy coordination of new technology and the input of a great many architects, who have focused the efforts of Autodesk programmers. For the first time, you now have a tool which offers a continuous and efficient path from massing studies, through design development into documentation. Depending on the size of your firm and the way you set up your project teams, it is likely that different aspects will be used by different individuals. Nevertheless, whether you are a sole practitioner or part of a team you will find that as each phase is completed, it will link to the next with little effort lost. Perhaps best of all, is the ability to make drastic changes during design development without causing the time delays and trauma to the project budget that formerly accompanied such bombshells.

A large number of firms have held off from using add-on programs such as Softdesk, Arch T and others due to restrictions, shortcomings, the long learning curve, or the perceived value for the price. If you are in this camp, now is an excellent time to venture into a real architectural tool, while adding very little to the learning curve. In many cases, it will actually shorten the time for a new user, who can concentrate more on the substance of building elements and their design behavior than on the mechanics of drafting. The other good news is the price. For little more than the cost of plain vanilla R14 AutoCAD, you can have the Architectural Desktop, incorporating the new architectural functionality seamlessly within R14 in a single installation.

In the New England region, there are a large number of firms that have standardized on Softdesk 8. If this describes you, you will find that the organizational tools which have aided you in the documentation stage are still there for you, as are Details and symbol management. You will also find a greater ease of use and enhancements in layer controls, dimensioning, and schedule creation, to name a few.

Autodesk has been hardly bashful about promoting the Architectural Desktop, and by now you probably have a sheaf of brochures and feature lists. (If you somehow missed these, call and we will be happy to send them to you). With an anticipated release date in August, what to do now? The last thing Autodesk would want you to do is wait, right? For the present, these are the options:

New AutoCAD seats: Get the Architectural Pro Suite (AutoCAD R14 plus Softdesk Architectural Pro CD) for a reduced bundle price, and receive a free upgrade to the Architectural Desktop when it ships. This will provide you with many of the features and utilities which will remain a part of the Desktop product.

Existing AutoCAD R14: Purchase Softdesk S8 Architectural Pro Special Edition CD for a reduced bundle price, including a free upgrade to the Architectural Desktop when it ships.

Existing R11 thru R13: Upgrade to R14 + S8 Architectural suite incl. free upgr. To Desktop

Existing Softdesk 8 (or AEC Pro Suite 2.0): Upgrade for a reduced price when Desktop ships.

(If we left our some of the many permutations, or for actual pricing, please call us.)

Included in this newsletter is a schedule of free design workshops that we will be conducting in our training center. We believe that a smaller setting with some opportunity for hands-on experience is the best way to share the Architectural Desktop with you. We will also be showing how it links interactively with the companion presentation product, 3D Studio Viz Release 2 (please see the accompanying article).

What if you could share AutoCAD drawings with anyone who has Navigator or Explorer?

If you have the Whip! plug-in, you can just right-click in drawing area to pan and zoom. This is an AutoCAD Drawing! You can even plot it or drag it into your own AutoCAD session.
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