Orthograph Architect is billed as a great survey tool and, from what I can tell, it is. Furthermore, the creators of this iPad app keep adding new features like crazy; I’ve lost count of the number of upgrades and improvements this not-so-little-anymore app has gotten since it was released in November 2011 (less than a year ago!). Now I don’t have an iPad, so I haven’t personally explored it yet. Depending on how the first half of 2013 goes, I will finally take the plunge and give Apple more money. Then I can give Orthograph some money as well. Which I’ll be happy to do. If you’re not familiar with Orthograph Architect, here’s some other posts on my site about it from around its release. For more recent news, check out Orthograph’s blog.
Orthograph Architect, how it wasn’t meant to be used.
The Michael Graves article from a month ago, the AIA Minnesota Board Retreat I attended yesterday, and research for my upcoming lectures on Client Communications with BIM have me thinking a lot about how we design.
Why not use Orthograph Architect for new construction? Imagine this scenario: You’re sitting at a table across from your clients. You pull out your iPad, fire up Orthograph Architect and start talking about design. As you start creating a shared vision of the project, you’re also sketching rooms and spaces in Orthograph. Walls get placed, window and door alignments are created, furniture place holders are added. You might be looking at things in 3D, but really you’re just diagramming. Everything is point and click, so your client can place windows and doors as well. Everything could be placed perfectly, but it doesn’t need to be. You can clean it up later. Perhaps a few pieces of text are included for specific notes and comments about alignments, views, concepts, etc. By the end of the meeting your client is the one holding the iPad, the one moving millwork and getting excited about the project. They have become an active participant in the design. You become the conductor. You are able to focus on the grand vision. The client is fully engaged and open to bigger ideas. There is talk of ownership. Not just of the final building, but of the process that leads from the first spark of an idea to the finished contract documents and through construction.
After the meeting you export the sketch designs from Orthograph directly (and natively) into ArchiCAD. Now you have all the ideas, realized in full 3D BIM within ArchiCAD. You can quickly clean things up, add the next level of detail, sheet views and send images back to the client. Since the client helped create the original models within Orthograph Architect, they have a better feel for the project and an understanding of what they are viewing in this next round. The ideas you have that usually get shelved because your clients don’t understand the value remain because they helped in their generation. For a moment you, as an architect and designer, feel a little uneasy. With this power you wonder for a moment if your clients even need your help. You fret that this technology gives them freedom and autonomy. You look again at the model you’ve created. This design is as much your client’s as it is your own. You see moments and relationships that they asked for, that they placed, that you never thought of. But with your guidance those moves were refined, incorporated, and turned into something amazing. The uneasy feeling in your stomach goes away. You get a rush of excitement. You are not just a generator of ideas, a meat-grinder of possibilities. You’ve become a facilitator, a collaborator, a mentor in the design process. Your projects get built with less last minute client driven design changes. The designs turn out great, the clients love them, and tell their friends and business partners. More people start knocking on your door, asking to design with you, asking for you to guide them through the process of building.
This is not tomorrow. This is now. Get to it.