Last week I delved into a list of must read books for aspiring architects. This week, we look into the architect's bag to share what tools an architect brings to site visits, surveys, and client meetings. Here is my list of essential architectural supplies and tools.
Muji multicolor pen - When I am surveying an apartment, I switch between black and red for drawing the walls (black) and noting the dimensions (red). Before I got these pens, my hands would be covered in black and red marks by the end of the survey.
iPad - During client presentations and initial meetings, I normally print out renderings on high gloss paper and plans on regular paper so they can keep them and look them over after I leave. But I still bring my iPad to show design iterations. I do 3D modeling in Rhino and use their iPad app to do mini walkthroughs so clients can get a better sense of the design. And if we even have to pull up something from the internet on the fly, its much easier to look on the iPad than on a phone.
Moleskine Squared Soft Cover - What walking architectural cliché would be complete without a Moleskine? I like mine with soft covers and grid paper.
Sony A6000 Camera - When iPhone pictures won't do, I carry this baby around. Easy to use and I can send pictures to my phone via Bluetooth if I need to share a shot with a contractor in a hurry.
Bosch Laser Measuring Tool - This cut my measuring time down and brought accuracy up. Its quick and precise, and best of all no windy tape to roll back up after measuring a 100' distance.
UPDATE - The Bosch has worked well for my but a fellow architect suggested I check out the Leica Disto E7400x. I looked it up online and its functions are much more advanced like measuring the angles of a roof from the ground and measuring around obstacles. I think the Leica Disto wins on those two abilities alone.
Muji Hexagonal Twin Dual-Tip Pen Pack - Ten "pens" that really feel more like markers. They are double sided and each side is a different color, so you're carrying twenty colors in the space of ten. When its time for some colorful sketching on the fly, this is what I lean towards. I bought these in one of Muji's NYC shops but I can't find it on their US website, note the link is for their "global" site. If you are fortunate enough to live near a Muji, check it out. Before they ever had one stateside I visited their Hong Kong and Tokyo shops and loved it. I still wear shirts I bought from there ten years ago. Now they have multiple NYC outposts so I'm spoiled, but their clothes are not as special as in the Asian shops.
Trace Paper - AKA Bumwad if you're over 50 - No design meeting is complete without a roll of trace. I'll never forget when I laid some trace over a floor plan to show how we could alter a design to meet my clients needs, the husband told his wife, "Check this out, its like magic." I like to think that too.
Staedtler 12-Inches Architect Triangular Scale - I think I've had this one since undergrad. Scales last forever as long as you don't confuse them with cutting ruler! The only thing I cut with this is the trace paper.
Tape Measure - The laser is great, but it has limitations. There are still moments that need an old fashioned tape measure. I like them sturdy and clear. Don't cheap out on this. Low end ones break easily, buckle quickly, and their printing is blurrier than on a quality product.
Bienfang Designer Grid Paper - This is my favorite grid paper because it has a hierarchical grid with small squares and thicker lines ever 8x8 that makes scaling sketches easy. The paper quality is great for drawing and erasing. More expensive than other brands but once you start using this you can't go back to the cheaper paper with fuzzy lines at 1/4" apart. Great for sketching details and drawing floor plans before you measure them up.
Legal Size Clipboard - I prefer this size for when I'm on a job site with 11x17 sheets, it gives a little more room.
Blue Booties - A necessity when you are on a project site and you: A: don't want to get dirt on the floor, or B: don't want to get YOUR shoes dirty.
M.R.K.T. Martin Utility Bag - Architect designed, architect approved. M.R.K.T. (Mad Rabbit Kicking Tiger) makes some cool bags out of felt with little pops of color. Removable inserts for pens and iPads inside keep things organized.
What are you carrying around?
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Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”