Edited 23 February 2015 with more BIM, CAD and SketchUp resources.


This week, we asked SPACE’s staff: What websites do you find yourself using all the time? We’ve compiled a list of everything from software tutorial sites, places for inspiration, and a few websites for a good laugh at the end of a lousy day: Software, Education & Technical Help

Section of the Arch

  • Bim Bandit has free downloadable content including ball pits, coffee makers, climbing walls and just about any other element you can think of.
  • Ahoy! Me needs a toilet and shrubbery! Pillage the treasure at Cad Pirate for 2D content blocks. Yargh.
  • The sharp shooters at CAD Sniper have free 3D content for you.
  • Texture Warrior features free textures and other visual elements.
  • You don’t need a magic wand to make all the content in that SketchUp rendering. The SketchUpWizard did the work for you: free furniture, vehicles (including a space station), appliances and lighting.
  • AEC Daily offers free continuing education classes to keep you up-to-date.
  • Questions about SketchUp? Try SketchUp Forum.
  • Need help with AutoCAD? CAD Tutor offers tutorials on CAD and Photoshop, as well as a robust forum.
  • Lynda.com: Need to brush up on Revit? Was your new year’s resolution to learn Rhino? Do you want to finally master Photoshop? For a monthly fee, Lynda gives you access to over 3,000 software tutorials that will take you to school on darn near any program you can think of.
  • No money, no problem; head over to YouTube. If you can stop looking up videos of yelling goats, you can find a boatload of software how-tos on anything under the sun. The quality can be a little hit-or-miss (did we mention it’s free?), but you can usually get enough information to help you through that ill-timed technical roadblock.
  • Ever decide you could use a light dusting of snow to finish your rendering? Or reflections in the sparkling river next to your rendered 32-story high-rise? Talented guy Alex Hogrefe shares these techniques and more on his website, Visualizing Architecture. The videos are free, and sometimes he pairs the tutorial with some unexpectedly great music, like Arcade Fire.
  • Ultimate Fire Wizard sounds like a Dungeons & Dragons character, but it’s actually a tool to help you find fire-resistant-rated designs for columns, partitions, and floor-ceiling assemblies.
  • Archinect is a social networking site that offers news and job listings, but it also features a forum that encompasses CAD topics, rendering techniques, contract language, and most anything else you need.
  • Though not a true news site, Life of an Architect is likeable-guy Bob Borson’s blog in which he spills a lot of the behind-the-scenes beans of architecture.  He covers everything, including billing for architectural fees, presentation skills, and — *gasp!* — how much architects make

Image and color resources

  • Winner of the best-named website on this list, Immediate Entourage shares free textures, cutout people (THE ENTOURAGE!) and plants. The site offers additional premium content for a fee.
  • Wanna make your own entourage? Use Background Burner to quickly drop a white or transparent background behind your crew (or whatever else you’re trying to isolate from the background).
  • Set aside a few hours and check out Adobe Color (formerly called Kuler). You can browse user-submitted color combinations or create your own. Upload an inspiration image, and the website works its magic to create different color combinations based on that picture. Tweak the colors to suit your taste, then grab the CMYK to pull the colors into Photoshop.
  • So you created this killer color combination with Adobe Color, now how do you get actual paint colors from the colors you see on your screen? Use Encycolorpedia. Enter a hex color into the blank, and it will give you options for more paint manufacturers than you knew existed. (Tip: To convert CMYK to hex, pop the color into Photoshop and change the sliders to the “web color sliders”. You’ll see three pairs of letter/number combinations. Put those three combinations together with no spaces — just “3hd67e” or whatever —  and, voila!, you’ve just converted CMYK to hex.) Use this hex color to get paint colors. OF COURSE we know that on-screen colors aren’t true to in-real-life paint colors, but how many times has a client sent you their logo so you can spec a feature wall color from one of their branded colors? Encycolorpedia will help you narrow the paint color down to, say, three or four possibilities without sitting in your finish library in tears with eight paint decks and no clue where to start. 

St. Louis-specific resources

  •  Everything you want to know about any piece of property in St. Louis County is available on the county’s Property Viewer.
  • Ditto for property in the City of St. Louis.
  • Are you altering the exterior of a building in a City Historic District? Do you have questions about standards and permits in the city? Make sure you’re in compliance by checking the Cultural Resources Office‘s website.

Inspiration and News

  • Contemporist. Drool-inducing contemporary interiors, architecture and art from across the globe.
  • Pretty pictures and stories that highlight the intersection of design and pop culture litter the beautiful pages of Architizer.
  • ArchDaily: Product news and pictures of enviable big-budget projects.
  • If you need some ideas for your client who wants a 3,000 square-foot closet, check out Houzz for images of completed high-end residential projects. You can also buy many of the products you see on the site.
  • Despite the gruesome name, Death by Architecture is not about the sleep-deprivation torture of studio. It actually collects information on upcoming competitions.
  • Design Milk. Gorgeous modern interiors, art and products.

Crappy day? Read these.  (This is the “Safe for work” version of the list, so you don’t have to look at all these on your smartphone at your desk.)

Do you have any sites to add? Let us know in the comments!