Going into architecture school a very long six years ago, I knew there were going to be things I absolutely had to learn. Not having experience in anything related to architecture beforehand, I did a lot of research and ensured myself I'd just have to be well-informed to keep up with many of those who had the luxury of taking architecture/engineering courses during high school. At that point in time, AutoCAD was the lay of the land. Churning out drawing after drawing and ensuring that it all lined up by using construction lines and various other methods that never fully ensured 100% accuracy, it was a "smart" program for the time and it certainly was much quicker than handwork. Entering school, however, on some of my longer studio nights I'd hear whispers of a new program that was being taught to the fourth and fifth years called Ribbit(?). Why would they name a program after a noise a frog makes? What about this CAD thing I've opened once and started crying when I saw the UD? Fast forward six years later and I now know that it is as a matter of fact called Revit and it's probably the best tool we've had as architects since, well, the invention of AutoCAD.
How is Revit Better?
Revit is such a powerful tool in so many different ways. It helps cut back the amount of time by combining documentation and 3D-modeling in one application. It ensures accuracy automatically in its most basic functions, and when something is awry you are alerted promptly. It is parametric, build one component and it can be x-long and y-high. It's a beautiful creation that still so many are not embracing because it's a change, and in this society change is often seen as too cumbersome and time-consuming. What's funny about those beliefs is the implementation of Revit has only decreased the weight of a project on PA's/PM's and increased productivity and collaboration, two very important piers for the field of architecture. Revit has the ability to be the only software an architect would ever need to know. Not only can it be utilized for documentation, modeling, collaboration among consultants and pricing, but it can also be used to create stunning graphics rather quickly and effortlessly. This all comes from one swipe of a brush with many bristles.
Traditional workflows favor working plan by plan by plan with no external feedback. Everything is disconnected in traditional CAD programs and when one floor changes or a height is increased, adjustments must all be made by "hand". Revit has streamlined production while giving a little more wiggle room in time spent in different areas. It's fairly easy to tell if your engineer's ducts are going through a floor or your structural engineer's W12x32. While there still are several flaws in its basic operation, the program works very well when there needs to be several people doing different things to one model. It's a much smarter (not harder) way to work, yet there are schools, offices and designers out there that are refusing the winds of change in favor of harder (not smarter) workflows and tedious tasks that no longer are deemed necessary.
Screwed without Revit?
If you'd ask somebody a few years ago if they thought a new graduate would be screwed without Revit knowledge, they'd probably say absolutely not. There's CAD and Rhino and Sketchup, they can certainly feel their ways around. While these programs still remain pertinent to some operations and different tasks throughout a studio, the implementation of Revit by some of the biggest firms in the world has shown it is as a matter of fact important. So important that some schools are completely redefining their technical curricula to implement full understanding of Revit. Having that program on your resume isn't just as common as CAD or Microsoft Word, it has become an avenue into many starting positions. Working with larger projects such as healthcare (which has been on a boom since the end of the recession) has propelled the use of Revit into warp speed. Building managers are learning how to use this tool post-construction during occupancy to monitor space usage and even for future renovations. Models can be leveraged to replace hard-copy drawing sets that often cost well over $10,000 every print series and become physically cumbersome to whoever has to lug them around. Revit is the way of the future, it no longer can be speculated that it may be. It simply is.
So are you screwed if you're graduating and don't know Revit. Let's put this bluntly; yes. If your educational institution didn't think it was necessary to educate you or your classmates on this program, you should demand a refund. It's getting harder and harder to find jobs (that pay well, for an architect at least) that don't require Revit knowledge. It's a large program to wrap one's mind around so it's not something you can just learn in a weekend. It takes months upon months to gain a certain comfort level and even longer to actually fully understand everything you are doing and can do with it. Ensure that your education is educating you or take it upon yourself to do so. You will likely not find many firms that are only using AutoCAD anymore, especially if they're doing anything worthwhile.
It's not fair to blanket the subject of Revit on the entire industry, but this really is where many firms are heading, or already are there. It may have been shakily progressive in its early days, but the newest versions of Revit are more powerful than ever, creating collaboration not only with other people but also other programs. With plugins for Grasshopper and easily-importable Sketchup models, Revit is showing that it's possible to weasel its way into your workflow somewhere along the way. It also helps keep the process clean, something that many of the overcrowded archives of firms can rejoice about. If Revit isn't your forte, try harder. If you still think it's not going to take off, enjoy your new job looking for non-architectural jobs. Get proficient at working with the program in everything it does, school teaches you to model within Revit, but use it for documentation as well (this will be the biggest thing you will do when getting into an office for an entry-level position). If you're either too far removed from school or not willing to learn Revit, just make sure that you can at least open it and know its basic functions. In this way you can at least begin to sift through what you will soon discover you can't run away from anymore. It's becoming an easier world for the side of documentation and collaboration which will hopefully lead to more intriguing and innovative designs. Believe it or not, Revit is here to stay and will trump your CAD skills any day of the week.