Digital Tools for Architects: Opportunities and Challenges

Digital tools are enabling advanced designs and unprecedented opportunities for collaboration despite posing security challenges

Learning Objectives:

  1. List three likely trends in architecture following the COVID-19 pandemic.
  2. Describe features of the newly constructed restaurant Gusto 501 that make it flexible and safe in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  3. Describe the pros and cons of cloud-based subscriptions.
  4. Explain how NFTs of architectural renderings might utilize augmented reality to enable wide-ranging collaboration.


1 AIA LU/Elective
AAA 1 Structured Learning Hour
This course can be self-reported to the AANB, as per their CE Guidelines
AAPEI 1 Structured Learning Hour
MAA 1 Structured Learning Hour
This course can be self-reported to the NLAA.
This course can be self-reported to the NSAA
NWTAA 1 Structured Learning Hour
OAA 1 Learning Hour
SAA 1 Hour of Core Learning
This course can be self-reported to the AIBC, as per their CE Guidelines.
This course is approved as a Structured Course
This course can be self-reported to the AANB, as per their CE Guidelines
Approved for structured learning
Approved for Core Learning
This course can be self-reported to the NLAA
Course may qualify for Learning Hours with NWTAA
Course eligible for OAA Learning Hours
This course is approved as a core course
This course can be self-reported for Learning Units to the Architectural Institute of British Columbia
This test is no longer available for credit

This course is part of the The Business & Technology Academy

Below are a set of links to building type studies from Architectural Record, which are in-depth analyses of particular kinds of buildings, with photos, drawings, specifications, detailed descriptions, and design solutions. Click on each link below, read the article then complete the quiz to earn your credit and certificate of completion.

Digital tools such as Building Information modeling are enabling design professionals, engineers, building contractors and owners to collaborate on projects virtually and generate detailed 3D models. Coupled with cloud storage, virtual reality, and other digital technologies, BIM allowed architects to keep working during the COVID-19 pandemic, which necessitated physical distancing. Now, these same tools are facilitating the creation of buildings in a post-COVID world. Other digital tools are helping project teams accurately calculate the embodied carbon of their buildings and generate NFTs which facilitate unprecedented collaboration. At the same time, increased reliance on digital technology bring with them new challenges, including a heightened risk to security. This course will introduce the reader to some of these opportunities and challenges, with the gentle reminder that ultimately, buildings should be created to facilitate interaction in the real, physical world.

Phil Bernstein Shares Ten Thoughts on the Future of Practice
An associate dean and senior lecturer at the Yale School of Architecture shares ten first thoughts about how the design profession may be impacted, and potentially transformed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Phil Bernstein, FAIA

Autodesk, Other Software Makers Widen Access to Cloud-Based Platforms
Companies are making proprietary technologies available to architects as they work remotely due to the pandemic.
David Sokol

Embodied Carbon Tool Launches at Greenbuild 2019
EC3, a free and open-source software intended to help designers, engineers, and clients assess and reduce upfront emissions. is focused on the specification and procurement phases of projects, allowing the comparison of similar materials from different suppliers.
Joann Gonchar, FAIA

Architecture Firms Under Threat of Ransomware Attacks
Ransomware attacks, in which a company’s data is encrypted and held hostage for ransom, cost professional services companies an average of $168,000 in 2018 and have become more common as all industries become increasingly reliant on technology.
Lydia Lee

NFTs and What They Mean for Architecture
NFTs are going to quickly become more interactive and experiential, and architectural renderings as NFTs are going to enable unprecedented collaboration.
Bridget Cogley

Pandemic Gives New Meaning to the Phrase 'Virtual Reality'
Playing video games during the pandemic teaches one architect that architecture wasn’t about form or material (or its lack), but merely that places become more real, and more fun, when other people visit. The interaction is the point.
Andrew Blum

The Heights Building by BIG with Leo A Daly
You don’t necessarily expect the design of an American public school to be bold and energetic.
Suzanne Stephens

Gusto 501 by PARTISANS
This purpose-built structure includes five discrete dining spaces on four floors, held together by an atrium and distinctive rippling walls designed using BIM. Its interior configuration enables a high level of flexibility, which will be particularly important as the restaurant ramps up operations when it reopens in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis.
Alex Bozikovic

Heights Building

Photo © Laurian Ghinitoiu

Classroom bars fan out from an elongated base.


GRAPHISOFT<sup>®</sup> GRAPHISOFT® empowers teams to create great architecture, through award-winning software solutions, learning programs, and professional services for the Architecture, Engineering, and Construction industry. Archicad®, the architects’ BIM software of choice, offers a complete end-to-end design and documentation workflow for architectural and integrated architectural and engineering practices of any size. BIMx®, the most popular mobile and web BIM app, extends the BIM experience to include all stakeholders in the building design, delivery, and operations lifecycle. BIMcloud®, the AEC industry’s first and most advanced cloud-based team collaboration solution, makes real-time collaboration possible across the globe regardless of the size of the project and the speed or quality of the team members’ network connection. GRAPHISOFT is part of the Nemetschek Group. To learn more visit


Originally published in June 2021