life of an architecture student

5 Resources Every Architect and Architectural Designer Needs at their Desk

There's so much more to being a great designer than drawing pretty pictures and building models.

Pretty pictures have to be accompanied by well designed spaces that not only comply with the code but also remain functional. The way to become a great designer is to gain as much experience as you can and know the right material to use as a guide. Having the right resources at your disposal is such an important element in your success as a designer, along with working under a seasoned and skilled professional.

What's a Drafting Brush?

by Chelsea Weibust

Updated 12/05/2018

What’s a Drafting Brush?

Who doesn't need a tool to wipe the crumbs off their desk?

When I first started hand drafting I always used my hand to wipe away eraser bits and pencil shavings. I would get so frustrated when the heat from my hand would attract the graphite on the page and spread it all across my drawings! I thought, there has to be a better way! 

Soon I came across this tool called a drafting brush. It would glide gently across my drawings, cleaning away all the eraser bits, excess graphite, and heck, even the crumbs scattered across my drawings from eating at my desk! A drafting brush is such a simple tool but an essential one to keep your drawings clean and crisp.


The drafting brush I use: Westcott/C-Thru*

What's an Eraser Shield

Updated 12/05/18

What’s an Eraser Shield?

Have you ever tried to erase a part of your drawing and end up erasing too much or smudging it with your hand?

I've had that happen so many times!

Then I discovered the eraser shield which changed my life. It's literally a stainless steel shield with voided forms that guides your eraser as you erase. It's amazing! Watch below to see how it works.


Eraser shield I use: Westcott/C-Thru

What's an Eraser Pen

Who knew you didn't have to take an Xacto to your erasers to erase with precision!?

Having the right tool for the job is key for productivity. Improvising can work well at times but I've found that improvising can take up valuable time and can lead to unsatisfactory results.

When I was in my earlier years in school I used to use an Xacto or Olfa knife to sharpen my erasers when there was a small area that needed to be fixed or erased. Once I found the eraser pen though, it saved me tons of time and I could see a noticeable difference in the quality of my erasing which is important on final drawings! Watch below to see the eraser pen in action.


Eraser pen I use: Staedtler*

What's a Lead Pointer

If you haven't seen last weeks post/video about lead holders, go check that out first!

This week we're talking all about lead pointers - what they are and how to use them. Check out the video to see more!


Here is the lead pointer I use: Alvin Rotary*

What Are My Custom Computer Specifications?

What Are My Custom Computer Specifications?

A few years ago I had a friend build a custom computer for me, built to suit my needs. I was so frustrated with the performance and lifespan of the prebuilt computers I’d had before of all prices, brands, mac, pc, you name it. The prebuilt computers just couldn’t perform the way I needed them to so I decided to go the route of custom built computers. Since announcing this transition to the interwebs, I’ve been asked so many times what specification I have for my computer, so here they are!

What's a Lead Holder?

When I was first starting out in architecture I knew close to nothing about what supplies I needed, how to use them, or where to get them. I want to save you the trouble and stress of not knowing these things. This is the first video of a new series called "What's This Thing?" where I will introduce different architecture studio supplies, and terminology and explain what they are and how to use them. In this video we look at a lead holder and lead refills.


Here are the lead holders I use: Kohinoor* and Prismacolor Turquoise*

Here are the lead refills that I use: Prismacolor Turquoise

Studio Vlog 8 // Part 1

I was able to live out a childhood dream where I was able to build a Lego model for my studio project! My studio project is based around sustainability and is constructed entirely out of wood. Here I bring you into my Sketchup model so you can see the massing of my building and see the logic behind some of the decisions I made. I also show you into the more technical drawings in AutoCAD, figuring out my panelized wall systems for the modular units.


How to Apply for Jobs and Internships in Architecture

For most people, the reason you study architecture is so you can earn your degree and pursue a career in the field. There is A TON of competition out there with school's architecture programs growing every year. Help yourself stand out from the crowd and get that job! 

There are 4 essential, physical things you will need to apply for jobs and internships in architecture.

1. Cover letter
2. Resume
3. Portfolio
4. Teaser portfolio (bonus)

Find out what they are and how to use them to your advantage!


Where to Buy Architecture Materials and Supplies

When I was starting out in architecture I was clueless about where to buy supplies for school. Furthermore, I like to shop around when I'm buying things so I can explore my options, comparing price and quality. Here I give you 6 suggestions for doing architecture on a budget!


6 Tips for Staying Focused in Studio

The architecture design studio is a magical place with tons of people and it holds with it an energy that's hard to explain. The studio is a great space to get inspiration; however, it can be a terrible place to actually get work done! There are so many noises and people around and just about every distraction you can imagine. That being said, there are actions you can take to get yourself in the "getting work done" mindset - here are 6 tips I use daily to get myself focused in studio!


1. Noise cancelling headphones
2. Organize your desk
3. Turn off phone wifi +/ data
4. Take a break
5. Stay hydrated + well-fed
6. Make prioritized to do list(s)

Studio Vlog 7

Since I'm taking a timber studio, we took a field trip to different wood manufacturing factories to see exactly how the wood that we build with is cut, glued, transported, and everything in between! This was one of my favorite field trips yet, come along with me for the ride!


Studio Vlog 6

Ever wonder what a day in the life of an architecture student looks like? Look no further! Here I went around for a day filming everything from organizing a critique list for studio desk crits with some friends, to driving around town, to showing some of the projects I've been working on! Hope you like it!


Sustainable Strategies - Louvers and Sun Shading Part 2

In this video we dig a little deeper into the sun diagram, identifying different effects that lighting can have on your building based on its orientation to the sun. Here we talk about the types of shading you should use based on the direction the sun is coming from.


Recommended Architecture Books

Ever wonder what types of books you'll be reading in architecture school? Some books will be less exciting like code or structures resource books (yuck) but others are truly inspiring! Look below to see the books I recommend having.

Books I recommend:

Steel Construction Manual* by Helmut C. Schulitz, Werner Sobek, and Karl J. Habermann



The Architect's Studio Companion* by Edward Allen and Joseph Iano



Lewis Tsurumaki Lewis: Opportunistic Architecture* by Paul Lewis, Marc Tsurumaki, David J. Lewis



Why Buildings Fall Down: How Structures Fail* by Matthys Levy and Mario Salvadori



Architecture: Form, Space, & Order* by Francis D. K. Ching



Building Construction Illustrated* by Francis D. K. Ching



Building Codes Illustrated* by Francis D. K. Ching



Architectural Graphics* by Francis D. K. Ching



The Architecture of Happiness* by Alain de Botton



Form and Forces: Designing Efficient, Expressive Structures* by Edward Allen, Wactaw Zalewski, and Boston Structures Group



Structures* by Daniel L. Schodek and Martin Bechtold


Architecture Studio Supplies

I bet you're wondering what supplies you'll need for your architecture studio. Schools don't always tell you exactly what supplies you need (often until the day you need them) and you'll find yourself scrambling at the last minute to finish your assignments. Watch the video below to see the essential supplies you'll need get by and thrive in studio!


These are some of the supplies I use:


I like to use a smaller sketchbook that I can carry around with me. Usually I'll use a 5x8 sketchbook with gridded pages.


Architectural Tri-Scale*

For architectural scales, I prefer to have a metal scale over plastic since they won't damage as easily. I also suggest getting both a full size scale and a smaller travel size scale that you can carry around with you.


Parallel Ruler*

A parallel ruler is a straight edge that slides vertically on your drafting table to help you draw straight lines while drafting.


Trace Paper*

You'll want a couple of different sizes of rolls of trace for when your drafting and sketching.


Olfa Knife*

An Olfa knife is a more heavy duty knife used to cut thicker materials like chipboard and plexy while making models.


Replacement Olfa Knife Blades*

One of the most dangerous things people do when making models is use dull blades while cutting materials. Also make sure to have lots of replacement blades while building models.


X-acto Knife*

An X-acto knife is a light duty knife used to cut thinner materials like paper but like with olfa knives, make sure to always use a sharp blade.


Straight Edge Ruler*

In addition to being a ruler, this straight edge has a raised edge to protect your fingers when cutting with a blade along the ruler. It also has a non slip grip on the bottom so it won't slide around.


Push Pins: Clear* and Aluminum*

You'll always need tons of push pins. These are what you'll use to pin up drawings for presentations as well as inspirational images at your desk. You may even want to pin up some of my guides at your desk!


Hot Glue Gun*

Hot glue guns are what you'll be using on study models or in places on final models that you wont see.


Hot Glue Refills*

It's always a good idea to have a backup of glue refills for your guns.


Easy Cutter*

Easy cutters a perfect for cutting things like balsa wood and wooden dowels. There are angle markers to help make cuts at different angles.


Pilot Razor Point II Pen*

These are my favorite pens because they dry quickly and don't require any pressure to write. I use these for sketching and drafting.


Prismacolor Markers*

Prismacolor markers are my favorite markers to do hand renderings with. These markers are great because they're double sided with a broad side for when you want broad strokes and a point side for when you need to be more accurate.



This is my favorite toolbox because it's compact, lightweight, and has lots of compartments to organize all my tools.



6-in-1 Screwdriver*

It's always a good idea to have a screwdriver with different heads for things like assembling your parallel ruler.



Especially when first starting out, it's useful to get a set of pencils with varying hardnesses for drafting by hand. This way you can experiment with different pencils and see which work best for you. Helpful tip: HB = #2 = medium hardness.


Lead Holder*

Lead holders are basically mechanical pencils that have refillable lead. I recommend having at least 3 different colored lead holders with different types of lead so you can easily switch between them while drafting.


Lead Pointer*

A lead pointer is what you'll use to sharpen your lead. Use the two smaller holes on either side of the white pad to control the length of the tip. Place the tip in the larger hole and spin the top around until sharpened, then dip the tip into the white felt pad to wipe off the dust.


Kneaded Eraser*

I like to use kneaded erasers to control lineweights and when working with charcoal. You usually want to dab on a surface to pickup the graphite or charcoal so as to not smudge the work. To clean the eraser you stretch and knead it and can rip off smaller pieces when working with smaller areas then morph it all back together again.


Gum Eraser*

Gum erasers work well for erasing colored pencils and graphite without leaving smudges.


Plastic Eraser*

Plastic erasers are used for general purposes. These are my favorite erasers because they'll erase just about everything and don't smudge.


Eraser Pen*

Eraser pens/sticks are useful when erasing small areas like when lines are close together.


Eraser Pen Refills*

It's always a good idea to have eraser refills.


Power Eraser*

For areas where you don't have much wiggle room for erasing it can be really useful to have an electric eraser to do the erasing work for you without the fear of ruining the rest of your drawing with erasing strokes.


Power Eraser Refills*

Electric erasers are small and you go through them pretty quick so I suggest having backups on hand.


Eraser Shield*

Eraser shield are thin metal sheets with different sized and shaped holes that's placed over your drawing to protect the areas around what you're erasing.


Cutting Mat* (one large one small can be helpful!)

Cutting mats double as both a working surface for assembling models and a safe cutting surface that won't damage your desk. Look for "self healing" mats that will mend and hide the cut marks on the mat. I suggest having a large and a small mat.


All-Purpose Glue*

All purpose glue is a great basic glue for building models, just make sure whatever glue you use that it dries clear.


Adjustable Triangle*

An adjustable triangle is great because it can be adjusted to any angle.


Drafting Triangles*

In addition to an adjustable triangle, I'd suggest having fixed triangles too so you can quickly switch between them and work more quickly. I'd recommend 30-60-90 and 45-45-90 angled triangles.


Drafting Dots*

Drafting dots are round shaped pieces of light adhesive tape that wont tear your drawings.


Drafting Tape*

Drafting tape is an alternative to using drafting dots. It's a light adhesive tape that wont tear your drawings.


Drafting Brush*

A drafting brush is a soft bristled brush that you can use to brush debris off your drawings without smudging them.


Vyco Drawing Mat*

A Vyco drawing mat covers your desk to provide a smooth surface for drafting or sketching.


Desk Lamp*

An architectural desk lamp can be mounted to any table without taking up any desk space.


Portable Drafting Board*

A portable drafting board is great if you want to be able to draft anywhere.