By Martha Hollowell
I was a Colonial Hand-drafter
…but now I’ve moved to BIM (Building Information Modeling). It is totally amazing how things have changed in the years since I got out of Architecture school. We won’t talk too much about the exact date but it was in the same decade that AutoCAD came out on the PC.
My first job out of college was in the Architecture and Engineering department of the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation (CWF) slaving over a drafting board.
My biggest struggle was getting my lettering straight. Does anyone remember lettering guides? But, CWF was forward looking for a history focused place and before I left we were experimenting with mainframe CAD programs.
After a couple of years writing grad school papers on a double floppy – no hard drive computer I headed back to the world of CAD. By this time a few firms were using AutoCAD on the PC and I was hired to learn it and help move the firm away from hand drafting only. At this time the speed of the computers and the power of AutoCAD (2.4) were minimal - Type LINE <Enter>, pick first point…wait… pick second point. But even at this speed it was still faster in the long run and I was even able to turn around the grumpiest old architect to the usefulness of CAD when I gave him a printout of three or four solutions for a site layout in about 15 minutes. My favorite was the TEXT command. Single-line, no formatting but all I had to do was type it in and it looked beautiful – at least as beautiful and the old TXT font could be at the time.
Modeling in 3D was a thing of the future – but the very near future. In just a few years we moved from total 2D plain AutoCAD to an architectural add-on with at least some 3D massing and rendering capabilities. It also had some much nicer fonts.
About that time I got into training and my knowledge of CAD moved into overdrive. Every 18 months something new came out. Then it started moving to every year. Plain AutoCAD – AutoCAD 3D – AutoCAD Architecture and then came Revit…
But that is a topic for another time.