Architectural Technology

3D Software has Liberated Architecture

This firm has developed an interesting way to incorporate graphics into their buildings. The use of  3D software has liberated architecture and firms are creating designs that would have been nearly impossible before.  Check out the work of ARM .

photo from Australia's Herald Sun

Good News for Architecture

IBISWorld releases promising Industry Report

Students in the Architectural Technology program at Dakota County Technical College need to know what’s happening in their industry. The same goes for anyone looking toward architecture as a potential career. Luckily, they’ve got IBISWorld, the largest independent publisher of U.S. industry research on the planet. IBISWorld analysts take a long hard look into the future, researching as many as 700 market segments, including architecture. One of those expert analysts, Kevin Culbert, put together “IBISWorld Industry Report 54131: Architectural Services in the U.S.,” which was released in March 2011. That report shows an industry on the upswing thanks to a resurgent residential and nonresidential building market.

Since jobs are job one in any field, this is reassuring news. As Minnesota’s top career, education and job resource, iseek reports that architectural drafters, aka computer-aided design (CAD) technicians or computer-aided design and drafting (CADD) operators, make good money. In the seven-county Twin Cities metro area, the average salary is $25.83/hour. Top earners bring home $35.56/hour.

The Architectural Technology program at DCTC trains students to use the latest computer-aided design (CAD) and building information modeling (BIM) software. Students develop drawings for residential and commercial buildings in a hands-on environment patterned after the most up-to-date architectural offices. Realistic architectural projects provide an excellent mix of technical training and creative problem solving, including effectively incorporating sustainability and green building principles.

Graphic courtesy of IBISWorld Industry Report 54131
Industry heating up in 2012

IBISWorld Industry Report 54131 has a positive take on the very near future:

“Demand for architectural services will improve in 2012, stemming from further growth in the residential and nonresidential building market. In 2012, revenue is expected to grow 5.5% to $42.4 billion, benefiting from an increase in demand for design and preconstruction work on new construction of offices, retail malls and other commercial building projects. During the year, the industry will benefit from improvements in residential construction.

“Furthermore, businesses that plan on building new offices in 2013 and beyond will increase their use of pre-construction services, including architectural services. The housing construction market will also improve considerably; new housing starts are expected to grow by about 25.3% in 2012. However, there will still be room for growth: the number of new housing starts is projected to grow to only 801,400 units in 2012, which is less than one-half of the record level achieved in 2005. This upswing in work on housing design will be particularly important for smaller scale regional practitioners that rely on residential buildings.”

Five-year outlook

IBISWorld Industry Report 54131 sees increasing profits through 2016:

“Over the next five years, the Architectural Services industry will return to growth, as the economy and real estate markets recover. In the five years to 2016, IBISWorld forecasts that industry revenue will grow at an average annualized rate of 4.4% to $49.9 billion. Firms will benefit from improvements in the industry’s largest market, nonresidential construction, the value of which is expected to increase by 3.7% annually over the next five years. Demand conditions will also trend upward in the housing construction market, climbing from a historical trough to provide some room to grow for smaller, residential-based architectural firms.

“Furthermore, the number of housing starts is expected to increase at an average annualized rate of 11.7% in the five years to 2016. Despite this growth,residential construction will still fall short of the level of activity in the mid-2000s. Profitability will improve over the next five years, driven by a rise in demand for new construction projects. However, in the short term, profit will be restrained as the industry continues to recover from the deterioration that occurred following the credit crisis.

“IBISWorld estimates that profit will increase from 6.6% in 2011 to 10.0% in 2016. Growth in profit will bring more players back into the industry, especially small players and sole proprietors that left as a result of poor operating conditions after the recession. The number of firms operating in this industry is expected to increase at an average annualized rate of 2.1% to 109,325 in the five years to 2016.”

At the speed of green

IBISWorld Industry Report 54131 knows its colors and one of the brightest in architectural services is all about protecting the environment:

“Demand for green products has increased over the past decade. Rising energy prices and environmental concerns have spurred interest in green buildings and architecture. While more costly to design, green buildings provide companies with future cost savings and goodwill. Architects use the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System for certification. Over the last five years, client demand for LEED-certified buildings has increased. Some major players, including HOK Group, generate more than a quarter of total revenue from such sustainable projects.”

DCTC Architectural Technology students just launched a U.S. Green Building Council Student Group at DCTC. A nonprofit based in Washington, D.C., USGBC boasts 16,000 member companies and organizations plus more than 160,000 LEED Accredited Professionals all dedicated to developing cost-wise and energy-efficient buildings in the quest for a sustainable future. Standing for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, LEED is an internationally recognized green building certification system.

Get ahead of the upswing: Enroll for Fall Semester 2011

Planning ahead is always a good plan. Earning a 72-credit A.A.S. degree in Architectural Technology takes about two years. If you start this fall, that would land you smack in the middle of the architectural services resurgence with CAD skills, hands-on project experience and a valuable degree.

Scholarships are available now. To apply, click the link below:

To learn more about Architectural Technology at DCTC, contact:
Shanghai World Financial Center | Third tallest building in the world at 1,614 feet with 101 floors | Pudong, Shanghai, People’s Republic of China 
Photo courtesy of chathu_ac
Right next door, the Jin Mao Tower | At 1,380 feet with 88 floors, this supertall skyscraper comes in 12th on the world’s tallest building list 
Photo courtesy of Mätes II

Walking into your Dreams

Architectural Tech grad Tony Glebus finds his footing

Philadelphia architect Harold Wagoner once said, “The great thing about being an architect is you can walk into your dreams.”

Tony Glebus understands what that means. He knew that he wanted to build things back when he was a little kid tinkering with LEGO construction toys. What he didn’t know then was that one day he would be strolling into structures that he had worked on as a drawing manager at Cuningham Group, one of the top architecture, interior and urban design firms in the country.

Tony learned manual drafting along with AutoCAD, a computer software program for design, drafting, modeling and architectural drawing while at Harding High School in St. Paul. He graduated in 2001 and took a year off to save money before enrolling in the Architectural Technology program at DCTC.

“I’ve always been curious about how things work and how they’re put together,” Tony said. “I’ve always enjoyed buildings and that’s why I chose the path of architecture.”

At DCTC Tony studied AutoCAD, building codes, and  ADA (American with Disabilities Act),  and then landed a chance to work at Cunningham Group as an intern during his first year in college,” he said. “At first, I worked on building models, but once they found out I knew AutoCAD they said, ‘Hey, we need CAD people right now!’”

As it turned out, Cuningham Group offered Tony a full-time job. Problem was he still had a full semester to go before graduating.

“I went back to the college and talked to Beverly Claybrook, who was my instructor at the time,” Tony remembered. “She had been fired up about my internship, but I was pretty sure that I wouldn’t be able to accept the job and still get my degree on time.”

Beverly saw things differently. “Don’t pass it up,” she said. “We’ll come up with a way to get you through your classes.”

Tony followed Beverly’s advice. He took the job, earned his A.A.S. degree and soon found himself working on projects that made his chaotic schedule during school a fond but distant memory.

“I was the drawing manager on a project at the Red Rock Casino Resort Spa in Vegas,” he said. “We designed an hourly day care facility called Kids Quest. That was a fun project, lots of crazy shapes, different colors and different sizes.”

“You’re going to learn more during your first month on the job than you have your entire life.”

As part of his job, Tony flew to Las Vegas for two days to complete the project. Walking into a structure that he had designed was something that he will never forget.

“That was a really cool feeling,” he said with more than a hint of fulfillment in his voice. “I’m looking forward to getting that again.”

Back at Cuningham Group, which has an array of spacious and fashionable offices on the Mississippi riverfront at St. Anthony Main (not to mention other locations inLos Angeles, Madrid and Seoul), Tony advises students and graduates in the field to be aggressive and never stop asking questions.

“I’ve noticed that a lot of grads coming out of school are kind of shy and don’t ask questions,” he said. “You’re going to learn more during your first month on the job than you have your entire life. It can be very intimidating, but you’ve got to ask questions and get on top of it. Wherever you work, people will know that you are there to learn.”

Tony’s long-range goal focuses on studying to become a registered architect. He’s explored a number of different schools and seems to settling on North Dakota State University, which offers a five-year Master of Architecture degree. He has very clear ideas for his future as a registered architect.

“I know that I want to move up in the company,” he said. “I feel that I have what it takes to be a leader.”

For Tony, that means taking on a larger role at Cuningham Group as a project manager. From there, only the dreams he builds will stand in his way.

A Creative Way to Learn CAD

Jody Hoffman                             Karen Malkowski                       Mark Nicholson

The students were able to use creativity to design CD covers as a way to learn AutoCAD.  As you can see, the students did a fantastic job and the graphics look like they belong in the music section of stores.

Instructor Paul Karlson is full of fun ways to learn the subject matter!

Flooded with Ideas

Hammond resident Judy Johnson bounces back from Zumbro River disaster with help from Architectural Tech students

(left to right) Juan Mosquera, Andrew Toavs, Judy Johnson, Mark Nicholson, Emily Detjen, Matt Olson, Karen Malkowski

When Architectural Technology Instructor Beverly Claybrook heard about the Zumbro River flash flood that devastated Hammond and Zumbro Falls, Minn., in late September 2010, she contacted civic officials and relief agencies offering help from students in her program. Claybrook knew that many homes along the Zumbro had been severely damaged by flood waters. KARE 11 reported that emergency management officials found that 39 of Hammond’s 75 homes were flooded with at least 20 destroyed. KARE 11 also reported that 58 homes and 20 businesses were destroyed in Zumbro Falls.

“It was heartbreaking to see so many people displaced from their homes,” Claybrook said. “I knew that we would be able to help in some way. Eventually, Zumbro Falls posted my letter offering assistance on the city’s website.”

Dakota County Technical College

I am an architect and teach at Dakota County Technical College. I have teams of architectural drafters and interior design students that would like to help homeowners who are looking to rebuild after the flood. My students could provide the necessary drawings to get building permits and/or assist with design decisions as they begin to rebuild. I know you are eager for families to rebuild rather than leave the community and perhaps our small offer would be just enough to influence someone’s decision to stay. Please contact me via email or by phone at 612-964-3089. —

Map courtesy of the Minnesota DNR

Judy Johnson, a long-time Hammond resident forced out of her home by flood waters, saw the letter and contacted Claybrook. Johnson was looking for a complete remodel of her residence before she moved back home. She saw that working with the college would not only give students a chance to gain real-world experience, but also present her with a variety of plans she could use to make her final decision. Johnson recognized the collaboration as a silver lining to a far-reaching calamity.

Judy Johnson | Hammond, Minn., resident

A lab assistant going on 18 years at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., Johnson was at work when the Zumbro River crested at 36 feet in Hammond—or more than 18 feet above flood stage—dumping more than three feet of water on the main floor of her house. “It was like a war zone when I got home,” Johnson recalled. “The National Guard was there and gave us ten minutes to gather our belongings and evacuate.”

Eight first-year students in the Architectural Technology program have worked on the service-learning project with their instructor, Paul Karlson. One of their first tasks involved traveling to Hammond as a group to visit Johnson’s home and get a firsthand look at the damage and the existing floor plan.

“Each student created a schematic walkthrough using Google SketchUp and construction documents using AutoCAD,” Karlson said. “We then met with Judy on campus so that the students could present their plans in person.”

Emily Detjen, 24, of St. Paul, Minn., is one of the students working on the project. Detjen first got interested in architecture as a four-year-old watching her grandfather craft blueprints for his job as a civil engineer. Because she had a strong interest in design, she went on to take auto body and graphic design classes at the Dakota County Secondary Technical Center as a student at Prior Lake High School. Working on the service-learning project has given her the opportunity to put her love of design in action.

Emily Detjen (right) showing her plans to Judy Johnson

© Emily Detjen | Schematic

© Emily Detjen | Schematic Walkthrough

“Designing plans for Judy on this project has been quite interesting,” Emily Detjen said. “I really like working for a live client. It’s nice to get a different perspective and see other opinions.”

From her work at Mayo, a world-renowned teaching hospital, Judy Johnson is familiar with how a superb training process unfolds. She has been more than impressed by the professionalism and commitment the students have brought to the project. “I am amazed by their work,” said Johnson, who is currently residing with her sister in Rochester. “They have given me some great and unique ideas. Now all I have to do is pick the ideas I like best.”

Hammond’s damaged city hall is closed and has been moved to St. John’s Lutheran Church (at the time of this photograph)

© Audrey Kletscher Helbling | Minnesota Prairie Roots
A child’s toy lies among the tires and other rubble at a collection point in Hammond when I visited the small Wabasha County town along the Zumbro River some 2 ½ weeks after the September flood. Seeing that child’s discarded toy among all the flood debris depicted, for me, the personal side of this natural disaster.

© Audrey Kletscher Helbling | Minnesota Prairie Roots
The exposed side of the restaurant/grocery in Hammond, where a portion of a building once stood. The building was lying in a heap in the street.

© Audrey Kletscher Helbling | Minnesota Prairie Roots
To learn more about Architectural Technology at DCTC, contact:

Architecture Students Visit TKDA

The architecture students had the privilege of touring the offices of TKDA.  Architect Terry Olson generously gave the tour and showed the group some of the firm’s recent projects.  Everyone left the tour pumped and dreaming about the possibilities…

We have Scholarships Available!

Are you considering a career in Architecture?

DCTC has scholarships available!


• Real-world office setting

• Hands-on training in Revit, AutoCAD, and SketchUp

• Construction technology

• Green building principles

• One-third the cost of private colleges

• Two-year degree completion

Apply Now with DCTC eApplication

Architecture Students Tour St. Paul

  The architecture students had a great time touring eclectic St. Paul.

Student of the Week

Student of the Week