A suite of prototype CAD (computer-aided design) tools has been developed as part of an educational experiment in which an architectural design studio course was combined with a computer science graduate course on architectural CAD to study the collaboration between architects and their clients in a computer-based environment. The suite of tools is based on formalized abstractions inspired by lessons learned in the VLSI (very large-scale integrated circuit) CAD revolution of the 1980s. It encourages a step-by-step transformation of a building program, first into symbolic representations that can be checked and evaluated with automated programs, and eventually into simple but consistent 3-D (three-dimensional) geometry that can be inspected with an interactive walk-through visualization program.