Technology & Tradition

Computers are introduced into the curriculum in the fourth year of study once students have a solid grounding in drawing by hand, developed over the first three years of study. The Graphics V: Computers class teaches a broad range of computer graphics skills beginning with simple line representation. For the past several years students have gone to the Gold Coast of Chicago to do measured drawings of the neighborhood's beautiful townhouse facades. Through the measured drawing, students learn speed and accuracy on the computer, and that the very same issues which apply to hand-drawn representation apply in the digital realm as well.

Next the students build digital models of their facades in order to produce drawings with shade, shadow and color. Finally students learn digital editing and compositing, and put together an analytique in the Beaux-Arts tradition of their townhouse facade.

In the spring semester, an advanced class is offered in which students learn advanced modeling techniques, digital editing, web design and animation. In the studios computers are made available to the students as another option set alongside the traditional media of watercolor and pen and ink.

The School makes available to students a wide range of hardware and software, including work stations, scanners, and color plotters, AutoCAD, Revit, SketchUp Pro, formZ and the Adobe Creative applications, such Photoshop and InDesign.

Computer Guidelines

The School has no specific requirements for students wanting to purchase their own computers. Computers are not emphasized during the first three years of study, therefore some architecture students find it best to purchase a new computer just before they begin their fourth year.

Computers will be needed for the University's required courses but there are several large computer labs open to all students throughout campus—including a computer lab on the lower level of Walsh Family Hall.

For incoming first-year architecture students not intending to self-learn how to use AutoCAD, Revit, Photoshop, etc. before your fourth year, let your personal preference be your guide.  Many students prefer and do most of what they need their first few years with just an iPad or other tablets.

At the School, PCs running Windows outnumber Macs running OS X and are generally recommended by the School’s professors and IT Team.

The benefits of desktop computers are that they are generally more powerful for less money and easily allow graphic-friendly monitors to be attached. The benefits of laptops/tablets are their mobility and the ease of which they can be connected to Notre Dame’s wireless network.

For specific questions about computers and software, please contact the ArchIT Team at