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The residential architecture design section of the Urbane website is our online presence in the amazing world of architecture design. This is where it all begins.

Architecture Design With Originality, Flair, Style, Class & Distinction

After several years of applying myself toward a passion for designing things, I graduated from Architecture Design School in June of 1978. A small town gal in the big city during the Pierre Elliotte Trudeau era, out looking for a job in residential architectural design.

I am Jenny McNeil Sr., Managing Partner and Senior Architect at Urbane International Real Estate & Architectural Design-Build Construction Group.

The jobs weren’t plentiful and so my interest in entrepreneurship coupled with a rare opportunity, gave birth to my long career on the formal architecture design side of The Urbane Group, as a minority Associate Partner.

After graduating, I was mentored by two of the best guys in the world, Alan White and Joseph Vollman, and under their guiding hands, I grew into a love and passion for residential architecture design work, and I might add, became very good at it.

Today, as a Senior Partner at the Firm, I now reciprocate the kindness and generosity extended me, to our juniors and interns, while guiding them away from errors and potential pitfalls, utilizing my 35+ years of experience.

Hand Drawing and Hand Sketching in Architecture Design

In the first year of architecture design school, we were required to produce every diagram, sketch, and drawing by free-hand sketch. Although extremely tedious at times, it taught the value of sketching, not only as a form of communication, but also as a form of representation.

Architects dating back to the dawning of time are taught that there isn’t a better way to explore, develop and advance a residential architecture design idea than with paper, a pencil and color crayons.

The degree of computer interaction nowadays can sometimes cause you to lose your train of thought.

The time that expires in turning on the computer and booting up CAD or Revit, or even move the mouse, is sometimes enough time for an idea to get convoluted or even lost altogether with some individuals.

With hand drawing and sketching, that cannot happen, as you are focused on the business at hand and not distracted by Social Media and a million other modern-day disruptions.

Admittedly, in the beginning, sketching often felt very hard because I believe that too much focus was placed on the symmetry of the lines being drawn or the proportionality of the objects being integrated.

I am so thankful that residential architecture design school forced me to practice and not give up in despair.

As with anything, the goal of practicing is not to become perfect but rather, to become more comfortable and skilled.

The more comfortable you can become with sketching, the easier it is to focus on relaying the idea, rather than the act of drawing and the more skilled you become.

The Gridded Cutting Mat and Tracing Paper in Architecture Design

What is it about residential architecture design that draws and attracts such great and creative people? I think the answer is really simple – the Clients.
I know from my own career standpoint, taking someone’s rough dream and helping them shape and mold it into a reality is what does it for me.

Watching the frowns of uncertainty fade and being replaced with smiles and radiance as the Clients begin to see their vision being developed, is a feeling you can only experience in residential architecture design.

Since my career began, I’ve noticed many interesting parallels between architecture, the built environment and the real world.

It is a way of life, involving every aspect of how we live, interact with each other and use our land.

It’s amazing to see how many of the design principles and processes are similar, and coupled with today’s technology the way we apply those principles with our design tools, the residential world is becoming better than it has ever been.

Now-a-days, with a few moves of the mouse and key clicks, we can make changes to the concept or correct potential errors before they ever happen.

Accuracy in all we do in residential architecture design is now a factor taken for granted, without the trial and error techniques of the ‘old days’.

From the first hand-sketch to the finished architecture design we apply architectural principles through sophisticated tools of our trade to produce amazing and flawless residential architecture design.

Architecture Design school teaches you to use a set of tools for sketching and drafting buildings of all shapes, sizes and styles.

You learn to begin sketching with a gridded cutting mat and trace paper. There are some key reasons why.

Scaling In Residential Architecture Design

There’s no way to draw buildings or most other things at 1:1 scale, meaning that 1 increment of measure  on paper equals that same increment of measure on land.

As a result, architects learn to draw on pro-rated scales, so that for example, 1/8th of an inch on paper equals an actual predetermined distance of measure on the ground.

Therefore, 1/8th of an inch on paper might equal 1 foot on the ground, for example.

Drawing with transparent tracing paper laid over top of a 1 inch gridded mat makes it much easier for architects to draw their creations and innovations to scale.

Duplication and Iteration In Architecture Design

Within buildings, many design elements repeat, such as stairs, which may carry through from floor-to-floor in an architecture design for a new custom home.

When sketching, the transparency of trace paper makes it easier for architects, designers and draft-persons to layer their drawings and trace common elements.

With today’s modern technology in CAD for example, this task is even easier than ever before, by simply switching screens to layer drawings.

In addition to duplicating common elements in hand-sketching, the transparency of trace paper also makes it easy to iterate. A residential design architect for example, might overlay trace paper and change one element to show an alternate design idea.

This is an important part of the sketching phase of a project to quickly explore different concepts. With the modern CAD technology that the Urbane Architecture Design Team utilizes the tasks becomes not only more easy, but much more efficient.

Grid System Definitions In Architecture Design

Architecture Design professionals quickly learn that the underlying structure of most buildings is a structural grid of strategically placed columns.

The grid system allows for a more even distribution of weight and is an important part of what makes the building stand upright and not fall over.

Similarly in today’s modern monster homes, and especially so in seismic-prone areas.

Serious consideration has to be given to weight distribution and the force that weight exerts, upon not only the structure, but also what is below the surface.

The placement of the structural grid layout is paramount. The underlying grid also helps architects create organized designs.

As a result, architecture design personnel learn to sketch on a gridded mat so that they can easily keep the column grid in mind as they design.

Using Micron Pens and Prisma-Color Utencils in Architecture Design

When drawing with trace paper and cutting mats, we architecture design experts learn to sketch with Micron pens and  Prisma-color markers.

There are several key reasons why these specifically perfected brands work so well. Microns and Prismas dry fast and have very limited bleed-through on trace paper. Microns are opaque, and Prisma-color markers are semi-transparent, hence allowing the architecture design professional to add color and shading, while still being able to see through it all on the paper.

Microns are also particularly useful because they come in a variety of line weights.

Similarly, Prisma-color markers also come in two line weights, with one end of the marker being thin and the other end, very thick.

In residential architecture design, as in other types of architecture design, it is critical to use different line weights to depict depth and breadth in objects.

When drawing a new custom home for example, thicker lines can be used to depict a lot of depth, such as is the case on the outside of the building structure.

Conversely, thin lines are used to denote less depth, such as perhaps the outline of a brick on a front façade for example.

To the client viewer, these varied line weights help depict the picture accurately and expressively.

Microns and Prisma-colors are also good for design annotations in residential architecture design.

In architecture design, color is most valuable for renderings such as building facades or perspectives.

Black and white is generally very good for shading plans and sections on them to depict the perspectives of the building.

Straight Lines in Residential Architecture Design

Architects, Landscape Architects and Designers from every domain learn at very early stages, that straight lines are an equally important part of correctly relaying a design concept drawing or rendering.

We as residential architectural design professionals are taught and learn to draw horizontal straight lines, at varying widths, 1 inch apart, ½ inch apart and so forth.

At first, it seemed like a senseless exercise when we were forced to do it in school and it was also painful to get any sort of precision, but the goal was to become comfortable and more skilled at drawing straight lines.

As we experienced in architecture design school and later on in real practice, the importance of a straight line cannot be overstated.

Again, with the modern computer assisted drawing technology that we use nowadays, some of this age-old practice is suppressed.

But, it will always be around, since we often meet with clients in remote development locations and must do some hand sketching on site, a large part of which is defined straight lines.

Depicting work with Painter’s Tape in Architecture Design

Certainly worthy of mention is painter’s tape. It is particularly useful when hand-sketching with trace paper.

The tape has enough stickiness to hold designs in place, and can be easily removed without ripping the trace paper, unlike scotch or masking tapes.

This unique tape is used to hold trace paper in place on the gridded mat, while the drawing is going on.

It can also be used for hanging designs on the wall. This facilitates a great way for the architecture design team members to review and critique. The team is able to offer suggestions about the residential architecture design being worked on during the brain-storming and hand-sketch phases.

The architectural design team members can easily tape a new piece of trace on top the existing. This allows a feel for what a design might look like, or be improved upon, if amended in a certain way. It is also a handy and effective way to add comments, design notes, iterations and other brain-storming scribble.

Modern Tools and Techniques in Residential Architecture Design

The trace paper sketching of days gone by, resolved two challenges with the standard paper approach. One, having to redraw the same elements over and over. And the other, that we couldn’t insert cartridges etc., easily.

Nevertheless, the flexibility trace paper still offers, brings about better visualization of design ideas between the design team members and sometimes even the client.

As a residential architecture design team, we’ve experienced a number of benefits. Iterations are easier.

This has quickened the sketching phases of projects. Straighter lines increase legibility and clarity, this making it easier to read and review sketches, with improved accuracy, consistency and style alignment.

Among many other things, it increases the familiarity of the architecture design being worked on, and also made it easier to share designs with the team.

Now, with modern CAD technology all these tasks are simplified even further. Viewing on screens instead of on walls.

Clicking a mouse instead of doing multiple trace paper overlays, makes review, changes, discussions, client meetings and amendments much more efficient, quick and easy. Thus also improving cost-effectiveness and efficiency.

The Urbane Residential Architecture Design Team utilizes state-of-the-art CAD and CADD design and rendering technology, in both 2D and 3D. Therefore, you as a Client can see what the finished product will look like and be, before ground is ever broke.

Get in touch with us for more details about getting a residential architectural design for your dream home done by The Urbane Residential Group of experienced, veteran experts.

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