Wondering what software you should use?
Here you can find an introduction and comparison of software you will need to use at ARCHIP and in your career. Sketchup and Autocad are taught in class at ARCHIP, however many students work with Rhinoceros, Archicad, and other software. It is up to you to choose what programs you would like to work with on a regular basis and to develop your workflow between modeling, plans, and rendering.
Introduction to Software
While there are many options in the world for architectural 3D modeling software. Here is an an intro to those used most by students at ARCHIP.
Arguably one of the most common tools for an architect, AutoCad is a must for all students. As architects used to draw technical plans and elevations by hand with pencil and ruler, they now use AutoCad instead. It is essential to learn this program! At first it may feel slow and tedious, but do not under estimate its potential.
AutoCad offers free student versions for both Windows and Mac, you just need to make an account and provide your school's name. This software is also provided by ARCHIP in their computer lab.
A simple yet powerful program for quick 3D modeling. Originally designed by Google to help home owners easily draw house designs, Sketchup has grown into an advanced 3D modeling and rendering software. Sketchup is extremely easy to learn, and can produce very good models. It is however limited in the range of geometries it can produce. When getting into organic forms, using irregular geometries can become tedious and almost impossible. There are also many plugins to extend the functionality of this software.
Sketchup is free to download and use. It is also on the ARCHIP lab computers.
For all your future endeavors as an architect, this may well be one of the most versatile programs. It allows you to open and save many different file types allowing you to work between other programs. It has a powerful command based interface making it quick and intuitive to use. And it is the leading software for parametric design (design based on data parameters). Rhinoceros geometry is based on the NURBS mathematical model, which focuses on producing mathematically precise representation of curves and freeform surfaces in computer graphics (as opposed to polygon mesh-based applications).
This software is sadly not free for students, but you may use it on the ARCHIP lab computers.
This software is widely used in architectural offices all over the world. It is designed to be intuitive and strait forward. Using defined elements such as wall, window and door units you can quickly model a typical structure. A nice advantage is the ability to produce plans, elevations and sections automatically from your 3D model. Archicad supports BIM (Building Information Modeling) so each element has properties and characteristics such as type of material, sizes and even manufacturer.
Archicad is not free for students, however ARCHIP does have licensed copies on their lab computers.
More software descriptions coming soon!
Comparison of Software
You can find more comparisons at G2Crowd.