studio shopping list

Architecture students know all too well that many tools are needed to succeed in architecture school. Here’s my personal shopping list:

USB Flash Drive – I survived without one for a while but it is quite a necessity.

Camera – You will likely want and need to photograph your work. A camera on your phone will likely suffice but it wouldn’t hurt to invest in a higher-quality camera.

Mechanical pencils – I use the Prismacolor Turquoise ones.

Drawing pencil set (B and H)

Kneaded eraser

Pencil sharpener


Ink pens – I have a good set of Pigma Micron pens.

Colored pencils – Prismacolor is one of the most well-known brands and has good quality but can be a bit pricey. Most brands will work just as well.

Art markers – Again, Prismacolor is a good brand but is quite expensive.

Drafting dots

Drawing board

T-square – Some schools do not require any hand-drawing so you may not need these.

Drawing triangles – See above.

Straight edge – There are aluminum safety straight-edges. If you plan on cutting straight lines, this is a must-have item.

Tri-scale ruler

Power strip

X-Acto knife – This little tool will be your best friend when it comes to model-making. I also recommend purchasing a more heavy-duty knife like an OLFA knife.

Cutting mat – If you have a knife, you’ll need a cutting mat. There are a variety of sizes available. I have a 18″ x 12″ one but our department has several mats that are 24″ x 36″.

Tape – Scotch, packing, masking, and duct tapes are probably a good idea to have on hand. They’re excellent for creating quick study models.

Glue – I use Elmer’s and hot glue when I know it won’t be seen in the model.

Rubber cement – Be careful what types of paper you use this on (trace and vellum).

Spray adhesive – While likely cancer-causing, there is no adhesive like spray adhesive. It binds instantly and dries in seconds. Make sure to use it outside because it sticks to anything and everything.

Paper – I like to have regular printing paper on hand for making study models, quick sketches, and other short activities.

Trace paper – Otherwise known as “flimsy,” this material is absolutely essential for architecture school. Get a lot of it and use even more.

Laptop – Nowadays, architecture involves programs like Autodesk Revit, Rhino, SketchUp, and AutoCAD.

Money – I had to purchase all of the supplies for my models. So far, I’ve spent about $150 each semester but I know some students who have spent much less and much more. If your school does not provide the materials, be prepared to spend money. Not to mention, architecture still requires expensive textbooks (try to borrow or rent).

Creativity – If you don’t have this, you might be in trouble. Architecture requires an ability to visualize things that don’t exist and then translate them in two- and three-dimensions. Be aware that this item cannot be bought at an art supplies store or any store.

This list isn’t complete. If there is something you do not see that should be here, comment your suggestion below. Thank you.


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