soul of an architect responds to beautiful drawings," contends
Steven House, AIA.
is a basic tenet guiding the San Francisco-based architectural
firm he and wife Cathi formed 18 years ago. So when House+House
contemplated using something as inorganic as a computer to render
the soul-stirring images they were renowned for, the idea seemed
very much in creating not just nice drawings, but exceptional
drawings," Cathi said. "The work we saw being done on computer
was clinical and clumsy; it didn't have the beauty of what we
were doing by hand."
thought of CAD primarily as a production tool, used by larger
firms to handle repetitious work. It didn't hold much appeal
for a small firm designing custom homes. "Every home is so different
from the next," Steven explained. "There is no repetition in
our work, no standard details that we use.""So I was completely
opposed to the idea of drawing on the computer," Cathi added.
"But I had to pause and ask myself, "Do I think we can
be a successful firm during this time period and survive without
computers?" The answer was "no.""As long as I have a pencil
I can do my work," Cathi said. "But if you are going to make
it as a small company you have to have good survivall
solicited advice from firms whose work they respected, and found
ArchiCAD was the software of choice. That,
coupled with the fact that the most interesting CAD drawings
they saw were produced in ArchiCAD, convinced them to bring
it into the office. Very few members of their five-person firm
were computer literate at the time, so Cathi and two others
enrolled in an ArchiCAD class at the San Francisco Institute
of Architecture. After six sessions, they were ready to integrate
CAD into their work.
to bring it in dynamically, to see it do something stunning
to impress us," Cathi recalled. They put it to the test by modeling
complicated house designs based on existing working drawings.
"We tried it out on small and large houses, using complex curves,
flared walls it gave us the confidence that if we could do that,
we could do anything." "The primary reason that we chose ArchiCAD
was the fact that when you input information, rather than drawing
lines you are creating a 3D model of a building. It offers immediate
gratification and makes it easy to visualize."
particularly pleased with their ability to quickly browse multiple
views, and to study lighting and work out a color palette in
a fraction of the time it takes using manual methods. Inspired
by the visual and tactile sensations they experience in their
travels, it was important that they be able to translate this
into ArchiCAD. "We needed to develop a rapport with the program,
to find a common language," Cathi said. "ArchiCAD allows us
to do what we could do already, and then adds to our repertoire
of ArchiCAD's value lies in modeling and easy perspectives;
you donıt need to put a lot of effort into it," Steven
said. "But itıs worth it to take the extra step to create views
with a different flavor. The results can be very powerful."
are very hands on with their projects, working closely with
builders, artisans and craftsmen to ensure that no detail goes
unconsidered. "We are very excited about our explorations in
ArchiCAD," Steven said. "And the potential it offers for us
to communicate design ideas to our clients, our builders and