What are the Differences Between AutoCAD and AutoCAD Architecture?

So in our last post, we talked about the differences between AutoCAD and LT. And butter, but we’ll leave that out of the discussion for now.  Anyways, depending on your needs, you may require more features within AutoCAD specific to design & documentation. AutoCAD Architecture has all of the features that AutoCAD has, plus the addition of tools designed for Architects to enhance the workflow of construction documentation.

AutoCAD is used to convey design intent, by utilizing Lines, Arcs and Circles, to illustrate the design.  But in AutoCAD Architecture, lines, arcs and circles are replaced by intelligent walls, doors and windows, known as AEC Objects. NOTE: AEC Objects are not backwards compatible, and just because you can save back an AutoCAD DWG file from, say 2013 format to 2010 format, you cannot save back AutoCAD Architecture components.

We all know how annoying it is when you change an element in plan view (like a door or a window), and then have to find all coordinating sections and elevations and change the object in those too. In AutoCAD Architecture, elements such as walls, doors and windows mimic real-world behavior and construction. So, you can insert doors or windows into your wall, and when you change the location or style of object, you may update this same object in other drawings where it is shown. You can also modify objects on a component level, meaning if you insert a certain style of window 50 times into several different walls, but want to update the style, you can modify it once and it updates every object.  Super time-saving.

Hey, wouldn’t it be nice if sections and elevations were easier to create directly from your floor plans? Well, like individual elements, when you change a major element like a wall or floor in plan view it automatically updates element locations, as well as material hatching, layer and linetype properties in all other views (since you’re working with a 3D model). Side note: layers are defined and set automatically in AutoCAD Architecture, and they are no longer as much of a management issue as they are in AutoCAD.  Details and annotations are also easier with AutoCAD Architecture, because it offers a larger library of detail components and keynoting tools.

I don’t think anyone enjoys drawing room tags, figuring out areas, or making schedules (so let’s be honest, usually this monotonous task goes to the interns or junior designers who are more likely to make mistakes). With AutoCAD Architecture, you can make room tags automatic so they update with changes, as well as the room areas. You can also make the elements in your design link to schedules, so they automatically reflect design changes.

As you may have read in our previous blog posts, there are many benefits added to your software when you sign up for an Autodesk Subscription such as getting access to the latest software releases, technical support, and flexible licensing. Now with a subscription you also gain access to Autodesk 360, allowing for file sharing, viewing, 25 GB of storage space, and rendering on the cloud which is available for both AutoCAD and AutoCAD Architecture. Some of the other subscription benefits are only available for certain products. For instance, rendering on the cloud through 360 is available for AutoCAD but not AutoCAD Architecture. However, Green Building Studio (where you can optimize energy efficiency and work toward carbon neutrality with multiple design iterations) is available with AutoCAD Architecture but not the standard AutoCAD. There is a lot more we can say about the benefits of subscriptions, but for now click here to take a look at the benefits table for details.

As with all software, with more capabilities comes more complexity, and some things are harder to figure out if you are not as experienced with using the software. One example of this: since AutoCAD Architecture is style-based, getting objects to appear on screen and plot as you would expect is not as easy, so that’s where the Display Manager, Display Representations, and the Style Manager come in. If you use AutoCAD Architecture as it is designed, it is a much different workflow, but once you become adept at using all of its tools and functions it is well worth the investment.

Stay tuned for part 3 of our AutoCAD adventure!

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About the author

Marketing Director in New York via San Francisco and Manila. Anna Liza is inspired by architecture and technology. A fan of traveling, slow food movement, and summers in Maine with her kids. She has been with Microsol since 2004.