Readers name the technologies and tools most essential to their professional success.
Evelyn M. Lee, Assoc. AIA, LEED AP Senior Editor, Inhabitat and Program Manager, Public Architecture – San Francisco
• Treo 755 Smart Phone: ‘It keeps me connected and is pretty all-encompassing: e-mail, Internet, calendar contacts.”
• Toyota Prius GPS: “I’m highly reliant on it. It’s a detriment, really, because I never learn my way around the city, which is a problem in San Francisco.”
• Sony Reader: “I use it to take books and PDFs with me. It’s easier than carrying a stack of books around.”
Andrew Caruso, Assoc. AIA, LEED AP President, American Institute of Architecture Students – Washington, D.C.
• Wireless card: “Instant and constant connectivity is critical. As soon as a I started in the work force, I bought a wireless card for my laptop so I can have Internet through Verizon literally anywhere I need it. Now everyone in the office has one.”
• E-mail: “It’s the most important thing I use and what I spend most of my day doing.”
• Tuning in: “There is a growing trend toward open offices and collaborative work spaces. Young professionals are finding they can use music technology — iPhones, iPods, whatever brand — to allow them to stay plugged in on a larger scale while carving out some space for themselves and allowing them to concentrate. They’re not tuning out, as they’re often accused of.”
• No tech: “I walk to work every day. When I was considering my next job, the ability to not have to get in a car or use mass transit was very important to me.”
• Post-it Notes: “I use a million Post-its on my desk and computer and I haven’t found a technology that allows me to map my to-do list as easily and fluidly.”
Richard Farson, Ph.D. President, Western Behavioral Sciences Institute – La Jolla, Calif.
• Overhead showerhead: “Taking a good shower is one of the great experiences of the day. In fact, it’s one of the great experiences of life.”
• Online distance education: “Western Behavioral Sciences Institute launched the first online distance education program a decade before the Internet. For the past 18 years, it’s been a dominant force in my life. It links people in high-level discussion and education programs.”
• Technology always backfires: “We get the idea that we invent technology and it serves us, but what happens is that when an invention succeeds, it takes over and we are invented by it. Consider how cars have shaped society and what would be different today if rail had become the dominant mode of transportation.”
Lyman S. A. Perry, AIA President, Lyman Perry Architects Ltd. – Berwyn, Penn.
• 3-D modeling: “BIM is the technology of the future.”
• BlackBerry: “E-mail, GPS, texting, voice mail, Internet, walkie-talkie, camera, listening to music and lectures — I use it all.”
• Daimler Smart car: “It feels like you’re driving a big car, and it gets a lot of attention, especially with our logo on it.”
• Fractional ownership of a charter plane: “What a time saver for getting around New England. We can cut our travel hours from 12 to three for a roundtrip to Nantucket.”
• Integrated plotter: “With a built-in printer and fax machine, I can get rid of that extra equipment in the office.”
Jon Pickard, AIA Principal, Pickard Chilton – New Haven, Conn.
• BlackBerry: “I have a strong reputation as being zero-technology, but I couldn’t live without this. I can live my life anywhere on the globe and have the contact information of my 8,000 closest friends with me.”
• HB pencil and paper: “As a designer, I work with the highly sophisticated paper and pencil. But seriously, having the resources of the firm behind me allows me the luxury of being a bit archaic. The firm is extremely deep technologically and we have people here who are exceptionally talented in that regard.”
• How technology changes expectations: “The pace of what we do has changed dramatically with the advent of new technologies. Clients who would have been happy to have an answer from you in a week now expect to be responded to within minutes or hours.”
Jane Cady Wright, AIA President and CEO, Hanbury Evans Wright Vlattas + Co. – Norfolk, Va.
• BlackBerry: “Personal tools like handheld devices are necessary for anybody here in a supervisory or a deep project role. About 30 percent of the staff has a BlackBerry or other personal communication device.”
• Video teleconferencing: “Our work is in many locations, so video teleconferencing has not only become beneficial to doing international business but essential.”
• GoToMeeting: “We use this Web-based service as a less expensive way to communicate when a face-to-face meeting isn’t necessary. I can do a GoToMeeting from the airport or a hotel room. We got the client, the London consultant, and the contractor together yesterday to look at drawings and spreadsheets, for example. And it’s bigger than just the way we’re communicating: There are savings to the owner on international flights and savings in terms of environmental impact.”
Wellington Reiter, AIA Dean and Professor, College of Design, Arizona State University – Tempe, Ariz.
• Cell phone: “Technology has, for better or worse, allowed all those interstitial times — like driving a car — to be available as work opportunities. People assume immediate access to you, and if you’re out of communication for even a short time, they may interpret it as disinterest. You have to be careful to leave a very specific message if you’re going to be out of touch: ‘I’m climbing Mount Everest this week and don’t have access to voice mail.’”
• Software: “Computers and the enabling software have completely changed the business of architecture. The ability to share information among all team members is a big change in even the past five years.”
• Airplanes: “Technology has created a greater need for air travel. In a global economy, you have to be there. You have to go. For large architectural firms practicing at an international level, principals are on the road more than ever before.”
Andrew Akard, AIA Principal, Jova/Daniels/Busby – Atlanta
• Rambouillet bike: “A while back we went to a kinder, gentler workweek that ends at noon on Friday. Along with that comes a more casual, informal atmosphere, so on Fridays I ride my bike into work and experience the weather, whatever it is. Now many times, people here, including me, end up working into the afternoon on Friday anyway, but riding my bike really adds to the quality of my week.”
• Scanner: “I like the idea that I can still use traditional architectural expression of sketches or doodles and scan them into a digital format.”
John Cary, Assoc. AIA Recipient, Rome Prize Fellowship, American Academy in Rome Rome, Italy
• iPhone: “I guess it’s a cliché, but I carry it absolutely everywhere with me to stay connected. I’ve shot upwards of 2,000 photos with it that I share with everyone.”
• Wireless connection: “I’ve even found myself choosing to fly through airports that have free Wi-Fi as opposed to using others that don’t. I’m the kind that has to reply to e-mail within two minutes or it gets buried.”
Scott Wyatt, FAIA Managing Partner, NBBJ – Seattle
• PDA: “A fully capable PDA is critical — one that has real-time syncing to everything Outlook does — not just e-mail but schedules, contacts, tasks, folders. A PDA that allows significant attachments has been really important. And reliability is essential; you can’t live with anything that’s less than completely reliable.”
• Lightweight laptop: “I can go anywhere and plug in a laptop to present an enormous amount of information.”
• Digital camera: “A super-compact digital camera is a powerful tool in our business. It allows us to integrate photography into our work and connect worldwide.”
• Video teleconferencing, WebEx, and Smart Board: “We are accelerating their use and quite often we use these in combination to address remote collaboration. The connectivity is critical, and we’re finding great returns on it. It’s also the greenest thing we can be doing as a company. We still need to get around by air travel, but we can reduce it enormously.”
• Cannondale bike: “I only have a four-mile commute, so I can wear my work clothes and street shoes to ride. It’s a great way to live.”
Gordon Mills, FAIA First Vice President, President-Elect, National Council of Architectural Registration Boards – Washington, D.C.
• iPhone: “When I travel, my iPhone is just magic. I used to carry a Treo, but the iPhone lets me do so much more.”
• Mac PowerBook with iChat: “My wife travels a lot with me and we can video conference with our grandkids. My connectivity on the road is 100 percent, which is more than I had with my Dell laptop.”
• Jura-Capresso Automatic Espresso Maker: “The beans are loaded, the water is there. You just tell it what you want. It’s like getting Starbucks at home every day.”
• Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones: “I feel so much better after a long flight when I wear these. I really like technology and can’t wait for new things to come out.”