February 1, 2016
Camilla Moretti, AIA, ACHA, LSS CE, LEED AP BD+C

You can call me old-school, but to me, there is nothing faster to convey an idea than sketching. Don’t get me wrong — I’m a huge fan of technology, an avid Revit user, and a big believer in Lumion, Rhino, Grasshopper, etc. But the ease and speed of pencil to paper is unbeatable — or is it?

We have been running client user group meetings in the same manner for decades. The team preps the plans in the office, prints a set of drawings and heads to the meeting like the A-Team. Plans rolled up in hands, the tool belt full of pens, different color pencils, sketch paper, drafting dots and so on. It made us look pretty cool, but is there a better way to do it — a smarter way? 

Once the meeting was done, we headed back to the office with our redlines and spent hours scanning all the sheets for record, and only then someone could start working on the model revisions. 

We are always Leaning our clients’ processes, so why not Lean our own?

User group meetings have become very extensive. They usually include a large group of people from different departments, which emphasizes our client’s desire of a multidisciplinary approach to design. Sitting around a 30-inch-by-42-inch sheet allows about four people to clearly visualize what is being talked about. In order to keep the client's team engaged and participating in the review, we had to tweak our process.  The tool belt is now a tablet, a PDF, and a projector.  

Now we can easily draw in electronic format, sketching on the tablet screen. Everyone can see the sketch being discussed, multiple iterations can be quickly saved and presented side by side. Once a solution is agreed upon, you can immediately send it to the client, add it to the A3 and send it to the rest of the team back in the office, and the model can be updated. No wasted hours in scanning multiple pages on a set. No need to print multiple sheets for the meeting (save on printing costs). And we have the ability to fit the entire plan in one file — no need to create separate area plans.

We have seen an increased level in meeting participation by the client, meeting records (A3s) are completed in the meeting, the office scanner is gathering dust, and the environment benefits from the change (no more printing for meetings).

Technology has enhanced how we conceptualize projects, produce documents, and coordinate disciplines. Smart screens, faster networks and smarter software will continue to allow us to create a big rival to my personal favorite: the hand-drawn sketch.

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