Does anyone use rhino as their primary architectural cad application?



Hi All,

Does anyone use rhino as their primary architectural cad application from concept through CD’s?

Rhino 5’s stability, handling of large files, drafting improvements, worksessions, and visual arq and grasshopper plugins (among others) make me speculate that rhino 5 is a complete solution and that autodesk architecture, revit, etc are redundant.

If anyone does use rhino primarily through all stages of design and development, in your experience, have their been any concerns or impediments working with consultants and contractors? Are there any limitations to rhino that prevent it from replacing autodesk architecture or revit?



Hi Joe,

I believe @ATH and his companion are doing (alomst) all in Rhino.
Maybe he can chime in to elaborate.



We do use Rhino for everything! and we are doing it right now (which means I can’t be expansive) but check out our site :


thanks for your responses. impressive work!


“Does anyone use rhino as their primary architectural cad application”

Hey Joe,

Not for architectural work, but for marine, which can include structural, mechanical, cabinetry, architectural and other fields. As a previous Autocad and Mechanical Desktop user, I think Rhino makes the journey from concept through to fabrication an efficient and enjoyable process.

I find Rhino 5 is excellent for handling big complex jobs, see the attached non-architectural screenshot for example, and I avoid using Autocad now. When presented with an Acad drawing for modification, I always take it into Rhino and back out when finished. The 2D content in the screenshot was sent on to the client as a dwg.

The Rhino to Dwg transition seems virtually seamless now, although I always open the finished product in Acad (2007), just to check things generally, having been caught out and embarassed in the past. There are only a few niggly changes I need to make in Autocad before sending. (That reminds me, I’ll report them shortly)

Using worksession to reference the 3D model and Rhino tools for projecting and remapping geometry, combined with a few scripts to speed things up - and with Rhino’s great new toolbar tabs, panels and ease of customisation - and considering the multitude of other improvements, my response to your query is that Rhino is most definitely a complete package in my line of work and has made Autocad and MDT redundant (except for the above). Saving a fortune too …


i do… but then again, i wouldn’t say i’m a typical architect-- in fact, when people ask me what i do, i just say ‘carpenter’ as it generally leads to less conversation afterwards :slight_smile:

also, i don’t need to do full on construction docs since i design & build… i just use the models as the construction docs… less work for me and easier to communicate with the crew when they’re looking at the models…
i’ve also been using an engineering firm lately that’s been ok with me just sending them .3dm files and they approve/deny/suggest from there…

a few screenshots/snapshots:

(absolutely loving the smash command for this type of stuff… it’s made my life much easier :wink:

this project from earlier this summer had some production companies in the mix and it was agreed all the info would be shared via sketchup files since everyone had it… but everything from my side was done in rhino then either compiled in sketchup for the visuals or sent to the engineers as the actual .3dms

video of that one:

i’m just using the beta mac version for now but hey, i’m adhd… i’m risky like that :smile: … i just make sure i keep a prior .dmg around in case a new update goes bad (which has only happened once i think in the past few years.)

i don’t have a complete rendering solution right now through rhino itself but i still manage to get some pseudo clay style things out of mac rhino’s toucan which do the trick… this is my current project which is (hopefully) going inside someone’s house

anyway… the answer to your question from me is yes, absolutely… though it may be in a way that doesn’t really conform to typical architectural standards etc…


Nice work Jeff, these skaters might need life-jackets on the bigger jumps …

How do you find the Smash command for accuracy when the panels are CNC cut? Is there a bit of site shaving and gap-filling required at this scale?


yes, there is… in the past, there was lots of shaving/fitting as it was moreorless a guess for me at getting those shapes… but now, it’s one cut if i’m going for ultratight fits… (i use three layers of surfacing… smash gives me totally fine results for layers 1&2 then i cut them to fit for the final layer)…

what i do is put two saw blades on one saw giving me a little over 1/8" kerf (these newfangled ‘thin kerf blades’ made me start doing this :wink: )… i’ll mount one sheets then temp tack the adjacent one in place which will have 1/16" gaps in spots… i’ll run the blade the entire length giving a consistent gap then butt the two together…

so with smash, it’s one cut for me… it used to be a bunch of tracing and cutting then the final fit cut…

in all reality, the initial gaps are fine for my use without the additional cut but i like to do it anyway :smile:


life jackets? might not of been much use for this thing i built back in 2006

(skip to around 1:20… or watch it from the beginning)…


It’s not the field I’m in but I imagine someone wanting full fledged BIM capabilities might still be looking at Revit as their primary software


Thanks for the lowdown on Smash Jeff, the gaps are less than I thought. as for the jumper, I’ve got vertigo just watching the first jump :smiley: glad he parked the mustang away from the edge.


very cool, interesting work Jeff and Brian! Thanks for the perspective.

Hi arail! That is precisely what I wonder. It seems like some benchmarking is in order.


well, it may be a little misleading the way i’ve presented it (i.e. smash = 1/16" give or take)… i’m sure if i smashed an 1/8 sphere as one, the error would be a lot more noticeable… but with the materials i use the command with (1/2" plywood or 1/4" phenolic resin) i have to divide the shape into smaller pieces or the material won’t bend in multiple directions… an 8th sphere of say, 7’-6 radius will require approx 10 individual petals so each individual piece will have a lot less of an error than if i flattened the entire surface as one…


jeff, and brian and arail, even if you are not practicing architecture, do you have backgrounds in architecture?


me? aside from wanting to be an architect since around age 5, no…
i love a lot of things about architecture but sitting through classes then sitting in an office for days on end isn’t one of them :slight_smile:
i lasted 9wks in architecture school… had to find my own way


No, mechanical engineering originally - been a fair bit of drift into other disciplines over the years though, including to odd steel building, CV in a sentence. There was a time when an architect went off on a tangent and messed up a house extension at my place, so I took over and re-drew the job.

Jeff, its really neat to see someone combining hands-on skills and software (self-taught I’m guessing) and being good at both. It can be good fun sitting in an office all day as well :smiley:

Thanks for the useful tip on smashing the part sphere, I’ve always dealt with developable surfaces so far, I suppose the smart thing to do with a non-developable surface in steel or Al would be to do a practice cnc run in ply to determine a safe segment size and shape.


No - sculptor, then carpenter, then stair builder, then 2D shop drawings for woodworkers and cabinet makers, now exclusively drawings, primarily in the retail display field. But while I was doing shop drawings (I still do for a few long time clients) I was made aware of how deep a data field Revit can generate for a building. I think this is what people love and hate about Revit. It’s perfectly set up to draw a complete shopping center with minimal effort on the part of the draftsman because developments like that are all decided before hand - the type of insulation, wall systems, doors, escalators, etc. You can essentially tell Revit what the floor plan is and let it go from there. And then you can extract data from the file. But if you want to use Revit to ‘design’ something, something that is not already pre-programmed - then I think you’ll feel a bit like you’re walking in mud.

I may have to learn Revit to stay current but I look forward to that as a bitter pill to swallow. On the other hand, I’m on vacation in Europe and I bought a mini laptop just so I could take Rhino with me to play with.


A story you might enjoy - a friend who had a cabinet making shop back when I was a stair builder gave it all up and went off to study architecture. I was covered in saw dust and writhing in envy. Jump forward 10 years or so and I ran into him on a job - installing cabinets. He told me a horror story of working in a big architecture office, detailing door knobs for commercial buildings for months on end, detailing boring electrical and mechanical systems against deadline for buildings that never got built, … and so on.

He quit that and opened up his own office out of the city and found that 90% (or more) of his clients wanted additions or garages and were only happy when presented with Home Depot type ‘Americana’ details. He described his business as ‘shopping for junk at Home Depot then putting it together in a way that didn’t violate local codes’.

Maybe you’re better off where you are?


sounds like a very interesting journey, arail. all of your points are well-taken.

i had 1.33 years as a detailer in a steel and miscellaneous metals shop, about 7 years of experience in architecture offices, mostly on larger projects, and most recently some years in grad school. Now I am preparing to move back to full-time work. I can appreciate your anecdote about your friend’s experience of practicing architecture. For me, I found that really large-scale, complex projects, like factories, are an area of practice where the work is more interesting and challenging.

With respect to Revit, it clearly has strengths, but also weaknesses and gaps. seems it is a tradeoff.


So we use a combination of Revit, Rhino and Autocad for our structural office. I recently did a test project to see if we could replace our Autocad with Rhino so here is some sample images all drafted in Rhino.

and other image of items same project.

And finally a model that we generated of small portion of the building from the Rhino drawings.

My conclusion is this. Rhino can easily replace Autocad, and Rhino+ VisualARQ you might get away with replacing Revit architecture, but for us unfortunately we couldn’t replace Rhino for Revit Structure, as long as we need to deliver 2D drawings. With that said I still use Rhino daily, and can’t wait for the day when we don’t have to deliver 2d drawings anymore. Although I feel that is still a long way out.