The Art of Communication

Peter Gerr (a good friend from A-school) is an info-data guru. His latest blog post is about infographics and the art of communicating information. We can learn much from looking at other industries and how they are communicating ideas and information. After all, that’s what we do.

The “ink on paper” architectural drawing has been our standard method of visual communication for centuries. With the technologies available today, I am wondering if it’s still the best way to communicate our ideas (our product) to the people using them (our clients and the people required to build what we design).

What do you think? What can we do to improve or change how we communicate our ideas?

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4 Responses to “The Art of Communication”


  1. 1 Rui Duarte December 2, 2009 at 8:10 AM

    It’s been a long time since I sat three feet away from Mark Lepage in architecture school pushing a plastic lead pencil on a mylar sheet of paper. Drawings were made by hand back then and so were models made of cardboard. When we graduated in 1993 there was evidence of students using computers for design, but when I look back we were probably the last class of architecture students to receive an “ink on paper” education. Since graduation, I’ve seen many advances in design technology from standard 2-dimensional drawing applications, 3-dimensional modeling to animation and something we know call BIM (building information modeling). All these methods have nearly replaced pencil drawings in the modern office including mine.

    In the last decade a simple software program was introduced called SketchUp. The application became instantly popular because of a rapid and easy learning curve and its ability to illustrate ideas directly as product of the design process. I have used SketchUp since it was in beta testing and have adopted it as one of my many “design tools”. The idea of communicating architecture is a rather difficult concept because many ideas can not be simply depicted by a line drawing and requires a considerable amount of additional information such as color, texture, light, shadow and transparency. When presenting ideas to a client it becomes the architect’s task to relay the correct design intention by selecting the appropriate visual medium of communication. I have used SketchUp as a design and presentation tool for many years and also directly involved the client in the process by sharing the working design model (file) and allowing the client to rotate and view a design concept model from all angles. I believe this process achieves a successful communication instrument between client and architect because less of the design intent information is lost in translation.

    Architects are always seeking better methods of communication and as more advances in technology are made every day the methods of delivery continuously change. The internet has certainly changed the way all professions communicate and may some day provide Architects with virtual environments that enhance the communication process.

  2. 2 Elayne LePage December 2, 2009 at 9:11 AM

    It is interesting that computer communication is today’s subject of your blog. I was just thinking about this yesterday. As I came out of our public library I saw a man about 45 yrs. old squinting to read a text on his cell phone. I started to think about communications in today’s society and I realized today’s communications are mostly digital. I find myself texting or emailing my husband when I want him to do or remember something for me. I email or send coloring pictures to my grandkids when I miss them. I digitally check the weather and directions when I want to go somewhere. My sons send me movies or “youtube” videos when they miss me or want me to see what they are seeing from 12 hours away.
    I am a retired elementary school library clerk dealing with children ages 3 to 10 years old and it has been my experience they learn very quickly with pictures. Of course words are very important, but when you don’t understand all the words a picture is a much better learning tool. This made me realize that “youtube” is a stock I should look into. I think Google’s youtube will be how many of us will communicate in the future. You can show an 8 year old exactly how something works or what a place looks like. Eight year olds today know how to use a computer better than most people 50 and over. They have grown up in a world of digital pictures and will continue to expand this idea.
    I agree with your friend Peter when he says a graph can show you much more information in one picture than in an entire paragraph of words. A graph is a picture for learning.
    So my advice Mark is to buy Google for the future, because I think future communication in architecture and in the world in general is in pictures.
    I think in the future clients will send pictures of what they are thinking they would like and architects will send their clients pictures to sell their ideas. And even better yet, architects of the future will show builders exactly what they meant with a picture and that would make the world a much happier place….don’t you think???

  3. 3 Elayne LePage December 2, 2009 at 9:17 AM

    FYI: Did you know there is an organization sending computers to children in 3rd world countries as we read this? Those children will understand the world and learn so much from the digital pictures they will see on the internet. I think this will change the world. I see the world as a much different place in the next 25 years. You don’t need words to learn or communicate if you can show someone a picture.


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