Building design and construction involves enormous amounts of information in need of organisation and diffusing among numerous groups of interested and active parties. The introduction of computers into the process has understandably changed the way in which buildings are created, developed and documented. Truly, many things can now be done faster and with more ease, but computers have given rise to new issues involving management of computer files, quality standards for deliver qualified materials, and the constant need to stay current with rapid technologies. The prospect of documenting computer standards and guidelines as static and whole is therefore neither productive nor possible- the only thing that is certain is that things will change. With this in mind, lets focus on guidelines affecting AutoCAD, still the de facto industry standard for construction document production. Notable programs related to modeling, rendering, and animation are presented in brief, with an eye toward likely future trends.
Architectural production can be divided into two major groups: contract document deliverables and general presentation materials.
Deliverables are usually understood as the construction document set composed of the basic two-dimensional drawing types (plan, section, elevation, details, and schedules) that describe the building sufficiently for the contract to build it.
The computer programs used to produce a standard set of deliverables are primarily drafting programs. In essence, they provide efficient, precise, and easily modifiable mechanical drawings. AutoCAD remains the drafting program of choice for most architectects and engineers. Though it does have three-dimensional capabilities and can also accommodate rendering plug-ins, for high quality presentation drawings, AutoCAD is still most valued for its precision as a versatile drafting program.
Presentation materials can include standard plan, section, and elevation drawings as well as physical three-dimensional models, computer renderings, and animations. Computer modeling and rendering programs are noumerous and varied, depending on the desired output. Predictably, the more sophisticated the intended product, the more expensive the tool.
Modeling progams are not limited to production output. Many are employed extensivly to design complex forms that would be impossible otherwise. Increasingly, architecture is talking advantage of programs developed for use in other fields, such as the automotive industry, aerospace engineering, video game developpment, and animated film production.