the student archi

Must Have Tools for Existing Conditions Surveys

You can do an existing conditions survey simply with a pen, paper, and measuring tape, but it would take hours longer and leave you with much less documentation than if you were to use these recommended tools.

22 of My Favorite Revit Keyboard Shortcuts

Using shortcuts is critical to having a working quickly and efficiently in Revit. I’ll never forget watching my partner on a project using the ribbon to draw all of his elements on our model. Tasks that I could complete in seconds would take him minutes which is time that adds up quickly. I want you to make the most of your time so you can begin working faster and smarter in Revit, so here are 22 of my most used Revit keyboard shortcuts.

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 3

Hear about my first review of the semester in my 5th year and about my thesis project! I uncovered so many interesting and revolutionary programs while doing research for my thesis, I'm so glad I recorded my experiences in the moment so you and I can look back to this in the future!

First Year of Architecture School

If you're interested in studying architecture, I bet you're curious about what it's like freshman year. No one truly knows what to expect but here I explain to you my personal experience. I wish I had spoken (or listened) to someone who had studied architecture prior to my freshman year. I was honestly clueless and would have benefited from knowing more about the program.

How to Survive the Architecture Studio

There's no denying that studying architecture is hard. Sometimes it may feel impossible to get everything done in time. While getting work done is important, you should always make a point to take care of yourself first. Watch below for my tips to help you survive studio!

  1. Work in studio
  2. Good time management
  3. Eat well and often (and stay hydrated)
  4. Sleep every night
  5. Save and back up your work frequently
  6. Always use sharp knives when model making
  7. Take some YOU time every day
  8. Have fun!

Gender Roles in Architecture

I enjoy discussing controversial topics, and this video is no exception! As a woman in an industry dominated by men, I wanted to shed some light on some of the complications that can occur in the workplace. Watch below for my perspective on the roles of both men and women in the architecture and design industry.

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.