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Architects and CAD: a love-hate relationship

Despite benefits, freeform designs hard to come by

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Not so long ago, a well-equipped architect might have had the following items on his drawing board: A T-square or parallel rule; a couple of plastic drafting triangles; some templates for drawing circles, door swings, and the like; and a container bristling with an array of mechanical pencils.A really up-to-the-minute practitioner might even boast an electric erasing machine, to help fix all the errors that inevitably cropped up as hand-drawn plans wound their way to completion.Today, every one of these items is utterly obsolete, right down to the pencils -- all swept away by the advent of computer-aided drafting, or CAD. CAD produces invariably flawless lines, along with perfect lettering in any font or size.As for erasing, it's now done quickly and spotlessly by tapping the Delete key. Hence, the drafting skills so diligently practiced by architects of my generation now rank roughly on par with the making of stovepipe hats. If you're expecting a lament over the loss of th...