It may have been the most erroneous piece of information ever communicated to us back in architecture school. With the wisdom of a prophet, our professors would inform us about the “paperless” profession we were about to enter. The age of rolled-up drawings was over and we had better prepare accordingly. Design would be conducted entirely with vectors, construction questions would be answered onsite via 3D digital models, and you could get rid of that waste paper basket under your desk. In a space-age mashup between The Fountainhead and The Matrix, an army of architects would be running around like Tom Cruise in Minority Report, saving the world from bad design with swoopy hand gestures on floor-to-ceiling transparent screens. It was going to be futuristically awesome.


That was twenty years ago. Looking around the office of today, (previously referred to as The Office of the Future,) the physical sketchbook is a crucial part of the design process, rolls of drawings fill every available cabinet, and the recycling bin needs to be emptied every three days. The amount of paper a typical architecture firm goes through in this “paperless age” is ridiculous. But quite recently we experienced the first glimmer of the tide turning, and we have none other than Seattle’s Department of Planning and Development to thank. It’s an example of the paper-free future, so inspiring and forward-thinking that it merits a letter of affection. So here goes, our love letter to the DPD …