Every architect needs tools! Here are some we use every day. While computers, co-workers, and clients weren’t photographed, we wanted to share some of our necessities.

Tools of the Trade

1. A hard hat should always be worn for protection on the job site.

2. Stomp around, with confidence, in your work boots!

3. A classic messenger bag with leather straps and minimal hardware is necessary to tote your tools in style.

4. Use graphic markers for sketching and concept design and not for adult coloring books.

5. Architectural Graphic Standards is an architect’s go-to guide for documenting construction.

6. It’s not a ruler. It’s a scale and it gives real-life dimensions to drawings.

7. /13. Bonus points if your lead sharpener & lead holder match your company’s brand colors.

8. How’d that get here? This carpenter’s pencil should probably be promptly returned to PROTO!

9. / 12. Those fresh blades & X-acto knife are used for cutting drawings and model making. (Also good for trimming loose threads off your shirt before a client meeting.)

10. “I can’t hear you now. My headphones are in.”

11. An eraser because nobody’s perfect.

14. The multi-tool: for MacGyver-ing your way through a difficult week. Whatever it takes!

15. The flash drive is used for an important client meeting, presentation, or to preserve your life’s work.

16. Let’s drink! Grab that coffee mug.

17. /20. Drawing, drafting, and the occasional doodle require an adjustable triangle or a graphic triangle.

18. Models. Models. Models. Hand over the utility knife!

19. Redlines for days! Pilot Razor Pens in black and red are the standard. Stick pens, bold, ultra fines…architects are very particular about their pens and Sharpies.

21. A paperweight & magnifier is a superb gift for an architect with aging eyes and an increasingly messy desk.

22. Too cool for smartphone notes? Field notes are for the truly hip architect.

23. / 25. Stick and sketch like a pro with masking tape and drafting dots.

24. /29. While clipping a tape measure or laser tape measure to your belt loops will give you instant contractor cred, architects should be used for measuring distance and area on field surveys.

26. Trace paper is a must!

27. These tiny metal memories of days past are hand-drafting tools. “This is how people used to draw. This set belonged to my wife’s grandfather who worked on his own drawings,” says architect Kyle Solyak, AIA.

28. Used here as a representation, architects use sketch books of all kinds including Moleskine, Leuchtturm1917, and the backs of napkins and scrap paper.

BONUS: Can you find the skid loader toy? “This skid loader was a gift from my dad who used to work at New Holland Agriculture,” Solyak says. Fun desk accessories provide happy moments of distraction. Being an architect is hard work!

Kyle Solyak, AIA, LEED AP, creating electrical switching diagrams on a set of architectural plans

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