About Strada

Strada means “street” in Italian. Streets matter to us. They’re the fundamental infrastructure of our cities and the core of our civic lives. They’re the connections between buildings, people, and public spaces. This is why we’re so inspired by them and it’s a shared commitment to these values that brought our principals together. Just as people mingle on city streets, our office is a place where we freely exchange ideas, challenging and inspiring one another to create exceptional work.

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Strada Elevates Five Stradistas!


The future is bright at Strada. The firm is committed to turning visions to reality and helping to shape new places across the nation.



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611 William Penn Place
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Pittsburgh, PA 15219

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Philadelphia Studio

325 Chestnut Street
Suite 909
Philadelphia, PA 19106

p: 215.440.0190
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Triangle Studio

1011 South Hamilton Rd
Suite 201
Chapel Hill, NC 27517

p: 919.521.8022

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Street Talk

Fresh ideas about design

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Drawing in the Future of Computer-Aided Design

By Mark Hensler

Did you know the first CAD software was created in the 1960s? It was called “sketchpad” and users actually drew on the computer screen! CAD software has advanced over the last 50 years and barely resembles the process it was initially designed to aid—drafting. Even CAD is now becoming obsolete and being replaced by BIM, a process that not only generates 2D plans, sections, and elevations, but creates a building in 3D and stores data on every element of the project. This giant leap from simple geometry being drawn on a computer monitor to complex 3D databases that show every element of a building (including the kitchen sink), all happening within the span of a career makes me wonder what the architectural industry will look like over the next 50 years.

As a result of advances in technology and computer programing, modern “drafters” are more familiar with a mouse and keyboard than with a pen and pencil. Yet, there is still an innate desire to draw. This was one of the key reasons that I became interested in architecture. I first became interested in drafting (yes, real drafting with paper and pencil) when my oldest sister brought home her school projects from engineering school. There was just something special about those pencil drawings of gears and bolts. There is a certain Zen-quality to drafting—the smooth feeling of a 2B pencil over a sheet of velum; the hypnotic state that comes from drawing brick patterns at 2:30 in the morning.

“Sketchpad” was an attempt to replicate the drafting process in a digital form, however, the technology at the time just wasn’t ready. Today, computers are much more powerful and incorporate touchscreen technology. Tablets also are becoming more popular. There is a common trend that all that was old is now new again, and the more things change the more they stay the same. Animators have already started this transition by using pen tablets, like the Wacom Ciniq, to draw their creations using software like Photoshop and SketchBook.

An artist using a Wacom Cintiq 22" pen tablet to create a concept sketch. (From http://www.wacom.com/en/us/creative/cintiq-22-hd)

An artist using a Wacom Cintiq 22″ pen tablet to create a concept sketch. (From http://www.wacom.com/en/us/creative/cintiq-22-hd)

There is a direct connection between an artist’s mind and the tool he or she uses to express the imagination. Today the tool is the computer and the future will continue to give artists ways to convert their visions to the digital medium. The question is, how will architects continue to adopt these tools to express their designs? Will we return to the past and re-adopt a hand-drawn quality to our work, or will we further embrace the database and stop producing 2D drawings at all, instead delivering 3D replicas of the project? I look forward to seeing the answer to that question reveal itself over the course of my career.

Top photo: Ivan Sutherland’s Sketchpad console in 1962. (From http://www.mprove.de/diplom/text/3.1.2_sketchpad.html)

Mark Hensler is an intern architect at Strada and has worked closely with computers throughout his career. He has been very involved in the adoption and use of BIM at his previous workplaces, and has a keen interest in discovering how he can use technology to do things better. Mark is an early adopter of new technology and loves trying to figure out what will be the next big thing.

Strada Elevates Five Stradistas!

By StreetTalk Editor

The future is bright at Strada. The firm is committed to turning visions to reality and helping to shape new places across the nation.

Transforming Buildings and Spaces for Life Sciences

04.2022Design, Ideas, Places, Stradistas POV
By George Poulin, AIA, LEED AP BD+C

Working with researchers to design their facilities is a highly satisfying process. We’ve been fortunate to work within many of Philadelphia’s most iconic buildings to create spaces to foster the next generation of scientific discovery.