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Top Ten Design Software for Architects


Each architect has his or her own personal piece of design software. It’s an essential tool without which many of them couldn’t imagine a single (productive) day at work. So, whether you’re a just a beginner in this field, or you’re already a savvy architectural veteran, you know how important it is to follow the latest software trends. 

This is true for every profession that includes using any kind of software, but it’s absolutely paramount to have a go-to app that you can turn to any given day. That’s why, in this article, we’re going to present you with the top ten design software for architects, in our humble opinion.

1. Rhino 3D

Our top ten countdowns begin with Rhino 3D. This popular tool for architectural design has been around since 1998 (which means ’forever’ essentially, speaking from a software development standpoint). What Rhino 3D provides is a great tool for 3D modeling. Users can enter drawings or physical models into the software, and the 3D models you create all come with design documentation.

2. Revit Architecture

The point where Revit Architecture stands out from the rest of the crowd revolves around the so-called ’building information modeling’ (BIM). This concept has become very important in recent years because it focuses on the development of sustainable buildings. In today’s day and age, this has become extremely important, and that’s one of the reasons why many architectural designers around the globe are making Revit Architecture their number one design software. 

3. SketchUp

One of the main reasons why architects use SketchUp these days are its real-world applications. SketchUp offers some interesting features like pulling both photographic and satellite images from Google Maps directly into SketchUp. This is a really interesting trait, and what many don’t know is that this feature has been around since Google purchased this software in 2006. SketchUp has been (re)sold since but has kept this feature around. 

4. Autodesk ReCap Pro

Another piece of design software for architects that has been on the rise in recent times and that truly stands out from the rest of competitors is Autodesk ReCap Pro. With this remarkable design software app, you can convert reality into a 3D model or 2D drawing that instantly becomes ready for further design. Some of the most distinctive features include automatic registration of laser scans, point cloud viewing and editing, intelligent clean-up, and marking up and tagging models. The main reason why more and more Architects opt for Autodesk Recap Pro is that you can create awesomely accurate 3D models with its ReCap™ tool.

5. V-Ray

Even though V-Ray technically isn’t a (standalone) design software, but actually a plugin, it still deserves to be on our list. Being a plugin, you can use V-Ray with software like ArchiCAD and SketchUp. V-Ray’s most distinctive feature is probably realistic rendering, which gives you an opportunity to show off your 3D models exactly the way they would look like in the real world. 

6. AutoCAD

If Rhino 3D can brag about being around since ’forever’ (1998), what should we say about AutoCAD, which has been first released in 1982? That’s almost four decades of being in the architecture sector, and many students and professionals around the globe have used it day in and day out in its many versions since its first release. The main thing about AutoCAD is that it can be used both for creating 3D models and as a teaching tool.

7. Maya

Like with V-Ray, we have to do a little bit of explaining first with Maya. Many architects wouldn’t even approve of Maya being on our list, but the main reason why it is here on our list is the amount of freedom it provides to designers and architects. A possibility to transfer Maya models into other software is crucial here: designers are using this particular piece of software to make models first and, as we’ve said – then they just transfer these models into ’real’ architectural apps.

8. ArchiCAD

ArchiCAD is one of the most reliable pieces of architectural software on the market. It’s very useful in creating 2D and 3D models. Other than that, you can also use it for integrating other software packages into it (we’ve already mentioned V-Ray here). These two together are great for creating photorealistic models, and that’s why many designers choose this particular combination for their daily jobs. 

9. Grasshopper

With Grasshopper, you can use parametric design in order to make the efficiency of the workflows better. In other words, you can use Grasshopper to automate menial tasks. Its use of variables essentially erases the need for using some of the basic elements like copying and pasting of lines, in order to use them multiple times. This makes life so much easier for you if you’re an architect.

10. Dynamo

The last piece of design software on our list is reserved for another plugin called Dynamo. Actually, to make things absolutely clear, Dynamo isn’t technically a plugin since there is a standalone version of the app. But most architects are using it with another design software that’s already on our list: Revit. What distinguishes Dynamo from the rest are its geometry engines. Arguably, Dynamo has the best geometry engines on the market. This allows users to work on complex elements much easier than with some other design software that’s more popular.

The Bottom Line

If you’re an architect, you know just how important is to have your go-to design software. Many architects can’t imagine their lives without their trusted software companions. But even so, it’s essential to be up to date with recent software trends because you never know what can come up. That’s one of the reasons why we’ve given you this top ten list, to begin with.

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