Architects often bounce from the jobsite to client meetings, permitting centers, and more before returning to the office to hunker down at their desks—after all, those BIM models aren't going to create themselves. Those busy days and nights require a kit of reliable tools, beyond streamlined workflows and innovative apps. ARCHITECT spoke with four designers to identify their essential hardware, the workhorses behind an increasingly connected network of communication. And the best part? Their picks include items that most professionals can readily get their hands on.

Toru Hasegawa
Toru Hasegawa
Toru Hasegawa
New York
“For programming, the laptop is everything," Hasegawa says. But for communication and beta testing his firm's iOS apps, which allow designers to create and share work online, the iPhone has become the ever-present tool for Hasegawa's team. Having recently upgraded to the iPhone 6 Plus, he finds the 5.5-inch screen to be a gateway. “When it comes to an article or an image, it’s just a different experience,” he says. Also the co-director of the Cloud Lab at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation, Hasegawa has increasingly preferred his iPad to his laptop because it lets him draw as a means of idea generation. If you had to design a floor plan but didn't yet have a concept, he says, "why would you start clicking lines [with design software] when you don’t have an idea yet of what it should be like?"

 

Paul Audsley
Paul Audsley
Paul Audsley, Assoc. AIA
Principal and director of design technology, NBBJ
Seattle

When asked to pick the hardware essential to NBBJ, Audsley chooses the cloud and the on-site and remote servers that enable it. “The tool a designer uses on a daily basis has transitioned from a production engine to a visualization tool,” he says. “It’s connecting you with data and horsepower that don’t sit on your machine anymore. … That’s a disruptive technology that doesn’t just change the way a designer works, but how the industry functions. When you’re able to stick that data in your pocket, take it to a jobsite, and connect to the cloud so you can show a client and connect with their devices, that’s a big change.”

Audsley's go-to hardware is a Microsoft Surface Pro 3. “It’s basically a tablet with a flexible keyboard,” he says. “You can also use it like a tablet, but it has enough horsepower to use lightweight design tools.”


Sarah Dirsa
Sarah Dirsa
Sarah Dirsa, AIA
Associate architect, HOK
St. Louis

Recipient of a 2015 AIA Young Architects Award, Sarah Dirsa makes the most use of a technology that’s been around for years: a Dell Latitude E6430 laptop. “When I travel for work, I’ll bring it to the hotel at night and keep working on client presentations,” she says. “You still have all the software you use with a desktop, from Revit to Photoshop to PowerPoint." And unlike a tablet, which functions primarily as a presentation tool, a laptop lets her both complete and show the work.

Dirsa finds that the tablet—her office uses iPads—is handy to have in the field, where project team members exchange PDF versions of construction documents. “If you can be there drawing with your finger to mark something up and be able to communicate that, it’s helpful,” she says.

 
Andrés Jaque
Luis Díaz Díaz Andrés Jaque

Andrés Jaque
Madrid and New York

Spanish architect Andrés Jaque, whose Office for Political Innovation was recently selected to design this year’s MoMA PS1 installation, believes smart phones “are becoming the mediators of everything,” he says. Jaque and his office use a Samsung Galaxy 6S, while making full use of tablets and computers as well as projectors, microphones, speakers, cameras, and sound-recording equipment. “Smart phones can knit together all these diverse pieces,” he says. “What’s exciting about the technology is how it is connecting different ways of doing rather than making them obsolete.”


Homepage image courtesy Apple.