#ArchiTalks 17 "Tool"


In this case, as Bob Borson tells it, “I know, you”re thinking "That's not a topic, it's a word" and I am here to say to you that it's both.”
We all use a tool in our practice and they may be alike or not,
We can also use it in the urban dictionary meaning, but we are all much too kind to ever do that!!!

In this case, my tool is:

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I picked it because I think everyone, even if they are CADD literate or not, uses a pencil in practice. It is the tool that most children use when they begin to write and draw.  It is the tool that people the world over have access to.  My youngest son and I have been doing a project every year where we send a shoebox to an organization that sends them all over the world and we always put a sketchbook, drawing pencils and an art eraser and some other items in the box because we figure that there is a budding artist or architect out there somewhere who might benefit from having some real art supplies.  

And I really like to use pencils.  There is this little known secret (maybe little known to clients, that is) that in a meeting going over a design, perhaps the worst thing that you can have happen, is to have the client pick up a writing instrument and start making “corrections” on the plans.  In that case, the architect can use their marker to actually make their point known, in heavier, darker, marks to emphasize or clarify their points ON TOP OF THE PENCIL. I am not that ego-centric, but you never know where my fifties may take me...

But, I am going with the lowly pencil.


I like to sketch in pencil and I used to use a Berol 314 Draughting pencil but I have been using the Prismacolor Ebony Jet Black Extra smooth 14420 as of late, because it is really dark and more readily accessible than the 314 and it’s dark charcoal paint color rather than the rust color is easily coordinated with my wardrobe and black leather accessories…

I have been drawing from a young age, so I really do not know what pencil I started with, probably a Ticonderoga #2 or those really big ones that they give you in kindergarten.

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My mother is/was a great mom and made all of my clothes until the 5th grade when I decided that I wanted all of my clothes to be storebought which for the seventies was just a bad decision all around.  

I also think that I like pencil because it is the most forgiving, you can erase it, and it is great for shade and shadow.  I was not a great one for cross hatching for rendering though my boys seem to be the great cross hatchers of the family. The Eucalyptus tree is mine, the eagle is my older son's and the comic is my younger ones and the pencil eye is my daughter's.

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I took Saturday Teen Art Classes at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh in high school and I used primarily pencil.

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And then I started taking drafting classes where I used a lead holder and H lead.

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I have no idea what was going on in my head when I designed this house in that drafting class in high school, I would try to explain it but I cannot. I suppose that was a circular tub in a bathroom with two doors and no toilet or sink but I cannot say for sure.  


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This was sketched from a live model in art school....

And this was sketched from a model in a magazine...

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Sketches in pencil to convey a project...

This was sketched at the Mackintosh exhibit at the Los Angeles County Museum.

Pencil. My tool of choice.

If you would like to see what "Tool" other architects use, follow the links below.

Please contact me via my website below for more information on the firm and sponsorship of the blog and podcast.

Enoch Sears - Business of Architecture (@businessofarch)
Bob Borson - Life of An Architect (@bobborson)
Matthew Stanfield - FiELD9: architecture (@FiELD9arch)
Marica McKeel - Studio MM (@ArchitectMM)
3 Tools to Get Our Clients Engaged and Involved
Jeff Echols - Architect Of The Internet (@Jeff_Echols)
The Best Tool In Your Toolbox
Lee Calisti, AIA - Think Architect (@LeeCalisti)
Mark R. LePage - Entrepreneur Architect (@EntreArchitect)
Evan Troxel - Archispeak Podcast / TRXL (@etroxel)
Lora Teagarden - L² Design, LLC (@L2DesignLLC)
The Tools That Help Make #AREsketches
Collier Ward - One More Story (@BuildingContent)
Cormac Phalen - Cormac Phalen (@archy_type)
Nicholas Renard - dig Architecture (@dig-arch)
Andrew Hawkins, AIA - Hawkins Architecture, Inc. (@hawkinsarch)
Jeremiah Russell, AIA - ROGUE Architecture (@rogue_architect)
tools #architalks
Jes Stafford - MODwelling (@modarchitect)
One Essential Tool
Cindy Black - Rick & Cindy Black Architects (*)
Eric T. Faulkner - Rock Talk (@wishingrockhome)
Architools - Mind Over Matter
Rosa Sheng - Equity by Design (@EquityxDesign)
10 Power Tools to Kickstart Equitable Practice
Michele Grace Hottel - Michele Grace Hottel, Architect (@mghottel)
#ArchiTalks 17 "Tool"
Meghana Joshi - IRA Consultants, LLC (@MeghanaIRA)
Tools of an Architect #Architalks 17
Amy Kalar - ArchiMom (@AmyKalar)
ArchiTalks #17: Three Tools for Change
Michael Riscica - Young Architect (@YoungArchitxPDX)
Stephen Ramos - BUILDINGS ARE COOL (@sramos_BAC)
brady ernst - Soapbox Architect (@bradyernstAIA)
Brian Paletz - The Emerging Architect (@bpaletz)
Can we talk?
Michael LaValley - Evolving Architect (@archivalley)
Why An Architect's Voice Is Their Most Important Tool
Jonathan Brown - Proto-Architecture (@mondo_tiki_man)
Eric Wittman - intern[life] (@rico_w)
it's ok, i have a [pen]
Sharon George - Architecture By George (@sharonraigeorge)
Brinn Miracle - Architangent (@simplybrinn)
Synergy: The Value of Architects
David Molinaro - Relax2dmax (@relax2dmax)
Emily Grandstaff-Rice - Emily Grandstaff-Rice FAIA (@egrfaia)
Tools for Learning
Daniel Beck - The Architect's Checklist (@archchecklist)
Jarod Hall - di'velept (@divelept)
Something Old and Something New
Anthony Richardson - That Architecture Student (@anth_rich)
Lindsey Rhoden - SPARC Design (@sparcdesignpc)
Drew Paul Bell - Drew Paul Bell (@DrewPaulBell)
Greg Croft - Sage Leaf Group (@croft_gregory)
- ()
Courtney Casburn Brett - Casburn Brett (@CasburnBrett)
Jeffrey A Pelletier - Board & Vellum (@boardandvellum)
Helpful tools found within an Architecture blog
Aaron Bowman - Product & Process (@PP_Podcast)
Sharpen Your Tools
Samantha Raburn - The Aspiring Architect (@TheAspiringArch)
Kyu Young Kim - Palo Alto Design Studio (@sokokyu)
Super Tool
Nisha Kandiah - TCDS (@SKRIBBLES_INC)
Karen E. Williams - (@karenewilliams)
Jared W. Smith - Architect OWL (@ArchitectOWL)
Construction: An Architect's Learning Tool
Rusty Long - Rusty Long, Architect (@rustylong)
Keith Palma - Architect's Trace (@cogitatedesign)
(CTRL A) (Command-A)- Edit
Keith Palma - Architect's Trace (@cogitatedesign)
(CTRL A) (Command-A)- Edit


  1. I too am a pencil person. I do not like pen. even for writing. Though there are times that a pen more appropriate and does generally provide greater contrast. I find i like the feel of pencil so much better.

    1. Thank you for your comments Matthew! I do use.a pen or ink (for signing checks, contracts and stamping and signing drawings

  2. Pencils are an indispensable tool for me. 6B or softer. I like being able to softly rough out a sketch and then darker it, profile and generally work it over as the ideas develop.

    1. Thank you for reading, Scott! Yes, I think pencils are greatly underappreciated....


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