The notion of a standing desk for architects has been around since the earliest days of architecture. Even Leonardo da Vinci was known to use a standing desk for his architectural drawings and for inventions like armored cars, parachutes, and flying machines. In fact, the first drafting desks were defined by their standing desk height as well as their tilting desktop surfaces. 

As computer-aided design has largely taken the place of manual drafting, modern architects are generally spending more time at a desk with a computer, and less with a pencil at a drafting table. Much of the day-today computer work, communication, and research doesn’t require the tilt of a traditional drafting desk. 

So which is better for a modern architect – a standing desk, a drafting desk, or both? 

Stand Up Drafting Desks

Traditional drafting tables have not become obsolete, because drawing by hand still has a place. Prominent architects like Michael Graves argue that hand drawing frees the mind from computer-imposed parameters (see “Architecture and the Lost Art of Drawing”).

In the course of an architect’s day, there may be some sketching activities that require a traditional drafting table – a tall standing desk with a large, tiltable surface. This classic form offers the area necessary to lay out complete blueprints and designs, and the tilt helps to see small details on the far side of a large drawing. Tilting the table also helps to maintain perspective, which tends to be exaggerated in the vertical direction toward the top of a drawing when it’s viewed on a large flat surface.

For architects who do appreciate the tilt of a drafting table, a number of fixed height and adjustable height models are available in styles ranging from traditional to industrial to modern. Architects who do both manual drafting and CAD may opt to use a height adjustable drafting desk for hand drawing and a height adjustable standing desk for computer work.

Height Adjustable Standing Architect Desks

Just because computer desk work has become a larger share of an architect’s day, doesn’t mean all of that time needs to be sedentary. On days spent at the computer, a height adjustable desk helps maintain focus and keep the blood flowing by allowing you to adjust between sitting and standing as needed.

Unless space constraints dictate a smaller size, a standing desk for architects is generally fairly large – at least 30” deep and 60” long. That amount of area provides space for computers and monitors plus books, printouts, and coffee cups. A sleek, modern design with straightforward simplicity helps keep clutter at bay.

Height adjustable desk surfaces come in a range of materials, from custom hardwoods to glass, Formica, and bamboo. One of the most durable surfaces is Formica over a laminated wood substrate, which is offered in a range of colors. If you take photos on your desk, white is often a good choice, and it also reflects more light into the workspace, so you can use natural lighting and task lighting.

Steel desk bases offer the greatest strength to lift and lower a desk repeatedly without failing. A powder coated finish adds industry leading durability and also means that the base can be offered in a selection of colors. 

Electric Standing Desks for Architects

For an architect, it’s nice to have a height adjustable desk that provides powered lifting assistance and quick, easy transitions from sitting to standing. Electric standing desks are capable and lifting and lowering heavy loads, boasting some of the highest weight capacity ratings among standing architect desks. Electric desks are offered in a wide variety of sizes to fit the work space you have available.

A large standing desk for architects like the Oben electric desk offers an expansive work surface up to 30” x 60”, which is plenty of space for multiple monitors, a laptop, some books, and any other paraphernalia that needs to be close at hand. If you have an even larger surface, you can order just the desk base and adjust the base to accommodate the larger width of whatever surface you choose. Brushless electric desk motors are designed to handle heavy loads, so even factoring in the weight of all the equipment on the desk, an electric desk should easily be able to handle everything an architect needs. The Oben electric desk, for example, is designed to lift and lower up to 250 lbs easily.

Desk height for the Oben model can range from 23.57” for sitting to 46.75” for taller users standing. The ideal height for each person varies. 

Pneumatic Standing Desks for Architects

The main advantage of a pneumatic standing desk for architects is that their quick, quiet lift mechanism makes transitions between sitting and standing both smooth and natural. Pneumatic desks come in a range of sizes to fit your work area, but if you have a generous amount of space available, the best pneumatic standing desk for architects is often the largest, such as a Kloud standing desk with a work surface up to 30” x 60”.   

Pneumatic standing desks generally have an “ideal use weight” around 30-50 lbs, which should be sufficient for an architect’s desk, even with dual monitors. The heaviest loads may require a small amount of manual lifting assistance. Weight adjustable pneumatic desks like the Kloud can offer up to 150 lbs ideal use weight, which is more than enough to provide complete powered lifting for most multiple monitor setups.

Desk height for the Kloud model can range from 28.25” for sitting to 48” for taller users standing (and add another 1.5” if you add casters). 

Drafting desks may always have a place in some architects’ offices. Height adjustable standing desks for architects have certainly found their place as well. Whatever your office arrangement, working in a variety of postures throughout the day can improve productivity and overall comfort.