As an architect, you have your go-to business tool—that easy-to-use software program designed specifically for your profession that you just couldn’t imagine doing your job without. But wouldn't it be nice to feel that way about every piece of architectural software your firm adopts? If you’re not thrilled about your firm’s current technology stack—or (gasp) you’re still using spreadsheets for anything—it’s time to level up. So, what are the best software programs for architects and architecture firms? Here are 11 of our favorite architectural business tools:
Best Collaboration Tools for Architects
With its true cloud-based common data environment (CDE), Trimble Connect fosters real collaboration for AEC professionals. Plus, it’s easy to use. Acting as a “single source of truth,” Trimble ensures that all stakeholders—including project architects—can “eliminate rework and costly supply chain issues.” And because Trimble Connect is cloud-based on Amazon Web Services rails, all of your important data is safe and secure.
- Features an open API, which enables connection to a large number of integration partners
- Transparent—and traceable—project information minimizes mistakes
- Connects the design and construction process in one central place
Individual use is free; business memberships begin at $12.99 per user, per month.
While a virtual whiteboard is a useful tool for any architecture firm, it’s absolutely essential for distributed and remote teams. With Miro, your staff can collaborate on everything “from brainstorming with digital sticky notes to planning and managing agile workflows,” regardless of where in the world they’re located.
- Boasts more than 100 integrations with the tools you use the most, including Zoom, Google Docs, and Jira
- Enhances brainstorming, diagramming, workshops, scrum events, mapping, research and design, and strategic planning
- Prioritizes security with ISO-27001 enterprise-grade compliance
Individual use is free; business memberships, which include advanced collaborative tools, begin at $16 per member, per month.
Best Project Management and Resource Planning Tool for Architects
As Mosaic’s founder John Meyer explains here, “For companies that bill time, it’s virtually impossible to grow above 30 people without a resource management system.” And even if you have no plans to reach that ceiling, who doesn’t want to be able to “harness the power of AI and automation” to achieve “data-driven resource planning and forecasting?” After all, without project management and resource planning software, you’re managing your company’s greatest asset—your people—in the dark. With Mosaic, companies see an average of:
- 3% increase in billable time;
- 5% boost in revenue growth; and
- 40% improvement in profitability.
- Project management
- Resource planning
- Workload forecasting
- Demand and capacity analysis
- Profit and loss analysis
- Budget and time tracking
- Performance dashboards
- Integrations with financial and ERP systems (including Deltek’s products and Quickbooks) to provide complete visibility into who is working on what
Team plans are available for $9.99 per user, per month; supercharged business plans start at $14.99 per user, per month. A free trial—Mosaic’s Pilot Program—is available risk-free.
Want to explore more project management software for architecture firms? Review our full list here.
Essential Modeling Software for Architects
BIM 360—part of the Autodesk Construction Cloud—enables users to better connect their workflows, teams, and data to manage the entire construction process from start to finish. This “connected construction” management flow helps with “predict[ing] safety hazards, proactively manag[ing] quality, automat[ing] tasks, and reduc[ing] rework so that you can control costs and stay on schedule.” As a tool for architects, BIM Collaborate Pro is available for cloud-based design collaboration and co-authoring in Revit, Civil 3D, and Plant 3D.
- Fosters design collaboration, coordination, and constructability
- Offers document management, quality management, safety management, RFIs and submittals, and reporting and analytics
- Boasts more than 70 available software integrations to connect workflows
- Hosts a comprehensive resource center complete with an e-book library to help users make the most of the platform
Contact Autodesk here to discuss custom pricing for your firm.
Top Generative Design Tools for Architects
Hypar crowdsources “generative design tools” for the architecture, engineering, and construction communities. Instead of beginning with a blank page at the beginning of every building project, Hypar users can leverage the expertise and contributions of tons of industry experts to improve decision-making—and speed. According to the author of this Hypar review, the tool's importance stems from its ability to open “up the use and reuse of architectural knowledge.” It does so by “break[ing] down the architectural production processes in sub-tasks (called functions) and then chain[ing] them in an integrated AEC production workflow.”
- Crowdsourced and community-driven
- Built for collaboration
- Compatible with existing tools such as Revit, Excel, Dynamo, and Grasshopper
Basic use is free; membership with expanded features costs $75 per individual (or team pricing begins at $3,588).
Founded in 2017, Parafin3D—” the world’s fastest and most powerful cloud-based generative design platform”—enables its users to leverage artificial intelligence to “instantly create optimized [and connected] designs, budget, and investment models for any site.” As a result, developers can make smarter, quicker business decisions and reduce back-and-forth, thus saving both time and money.
- Ends design fees, iterations, and delays
- Enables users to “save weeks of time of every site evaluation,” enabling them to “bid on sought-after properties before the competition”
- Led by a team of real estate and design technology experts
Schedule a demo here to learn more about Parafin3d’s annual membership.
Sidewalk Labs—Google’s urban innovation unit—enables real estate leaders “to improve neighborhood design, reduce carbon emissions and energy costs for buildings and homes, and optimize curbs and parking spaces.” Specifically, its generative design platform, Delve, streamlines the design process, integrating financials, energy models, and site constraints into one cohesive report. Using generative design and artificial intelligence, Delve identifies the best possible design based on each user's specific parameters.
- Fosters collaboration and “real-time alignment”
- Enables data-driven decision-making
- Optimizes results based on design priorities, quality of life parameters, and financial outcomes
Contact Sidewalk Labs here to discuss using Delve for your firm.
Top Design Review Tool
Eighty-six percent of the top design firms in the US use Bluebeam Studio’s Revu for design review. With this one piece of top architecture software, you’ll be able to manage everything from the “punch process” and “submittal review” to quality checks and “RFI posting.” Plus, all of your project folders and files will be in one place, which just makes everything a whole lot more organized.
- Improves design review, document management, submittal review, RFI posting, punch process, and QA/QC processes
- Trusted by more than 2 million builders around the world
- Provides a plethora of how-to-videos, free webinars, and training and consulting resources to support users
- BlueBeam offers new users a free, 30-day trial. Then, pricing ranges between $349 and $599 per seat, depending on features.
Best Virtual Reality Tools
The Wild, IRISVR, and Enscape
Ready to take your modelling and presentations to the next level? Three top tools for architects: The Wild, IRISVR, and Enscape all enable you to transport your clients into your projects via immersive, virtual reality. Using a VR headset—such as the Oculus Rift—stakeholders will be able to see your designs come to life before their eyes and under their feet. According to The Wild—which acquired IRISVR’s primary VR product, Prospect, in 2021—virtual reality enables architects to “effectively communicate spatial concepts through immersive design reviews to unlock better decisions and alignment.” This, plus your team, can ideate on the fly—and “gain critical context by experiencing [their] work at scale.”
Schedule a free trial of each to determine which VR program for architects will best suit your needs.
Prices range from $295 per month for a basic plan to $1,795 for a premium one. All plans are available for a free trial.
Fixed-seat licenses are $42.90; floating licenses are $74.90 per month. A free 14-day trial is available.
Individual memberships are $225 per month; workstation memberships are $350 per month. You can provide your email to start a free trial.