The Architects’ Laptop: WORKac Strikes the Perfect Work-Life Balance With a Digital Drawing Board

Paul Keskeys Paul Keskeys

Contrary to popular belief, there is more to life than architecture.

While that statement might sound outrageous to some, architect Dan Wood — Co-Founder of New York–based firm WORKac — understands the challenges of juggling a happy family life with work at the studio, and appreciates any technology that can help him give both commitments the time and attention they deserve.

For this reason, the versatility of Microsoft’s Surface Book has been something of a revelation. “Our day to day is quite crazy because our children are very small,” explains Wood, who has been testing out the hybrid laptop at home and work in recent weeks. “It’s really [about] trying to find pockets of time for the kids and then pockets of time where we can work.” For Wood, the efficiency of touchscreen sketching allows for a better balance between these two branches of everyday life.

“When the team needs something right away, they can send me an email. There’s a PDF waiting,” says Wood. “I can open it up, sketch over it, make my comments [and] send it back to them so by the time I get to the office, they’ve already made some adjustments to it.” This fluid workflow is improving not only Wood’s personal work-life balance, but also creates a synergy between design team members that is helping WORKac push more boundaries within their projects.

One such project currently being brought to life on the Surface Book — the firm’s “digital drawing board” — is a museum extension in New York that will form a bold blend of old and new. The project involves the addition of a contemporary tower atop a historic building, providing new exhibition floors for the museum along with commercial space. “We find it pretty inspiring to work between … classical preservation and avant-garde design,” says Wood. “The Surface Book is a great tool to communicate between the virtual world and the physical world.”

Ultimately, the success of any collaborative design process comes down to swift, clear communication — and WORKac’s adoption of the Surface Book has helped boost this aspect of practice immeasurably. “For us, technology is really a lot about … [the] communication of ideas. What’s been great about the Surface Book is that it allows us to get these ideas down immediately.” Combined with the creativity of WORKac’s design team, the use of this technology looks set to culminate in another cultural landmark for the City of New York — and Wood should still make it home in time for dinner with his kids.

For more information on and images of WORKac’s innovative projects, explore the studio’s firm profile here and if you enjoyed this article, check out the others in our series on “The Architects’ Laptop”:

Johnston Marklee’s Museum of Drawings Is Brought to Life by the Digital Power of Surface Book

Oppenheim Architecture’s Ode to Engineers Transforms From Concept to Construction in Miami

Stanley Saitowitz | Natoma Architects Harnesses Revit and Rhino to Reinvent the Student Village in Berkeley

A+I Uses Real-Time Digital Sketching to Reinvent Workspace Design

Paul Keskeys Author: Paul Keskeys
Paul Keskeys is Editor in Chief at Architizer. An architect-trained editor, writer and content creator, Paul graduated from UCL and the University of Edinburgh, gaining an MArch in Architectural Design with distinction. Paul has spoken about the art of architecture and storytelling at many national industry events, including AIANY, NeoCon, KBIS, the Future NOW Symposium, the Young Architect Conference and NYCxDesign. As well as hundreds of editorial publications on Architizer, Paul has also had features published in Architectural Digest, PIN—UP Magazine, Archinect, Aesthetica Magazine and PUBLIC Journal.
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