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Architecture and AI, Not Architecture vs. AI

The introduction of AI into the world of Architecture has been a hot topic over the past few months. Some are excited about the use of AI in Architecture and others are worried that it will take their place. Can AI really replace the need for architects?

How Does AI Work?

Let’s take a moment to discuss how AI works. AI scours its database looking for whatever imagery machine learning has determined matches the key words that area being searched for. For example, if I type “Contemporary Residence”, AI will then sift through all the imagery online that has been labeled as “Contemporary Residence”. AI will then produce visualizations based on what it finds. The inherent problem that lies within this process is that there are lots of misrepresentations across the internet. Because of this, AI scripts end up needing to be very specific to hit the target. Think about this though, the more specific the scripts become, the more similar these ideas start to look like everything that already exists. “An architecture dependent on AI will produce content of the lowest common denominator.” source

Hyper Efficiency

Back when CAD drafting was introduced into architecture it created a boom. This movement helped architects and designers with new ways to generate form and thought. Conversely, it also created an increase in workload, project backlog, and burnout. AI software has been crossing over into the architecture world for a while. With the creation of softwares like Grasshopper, an iterative form generation plugin, the architecture profession began to see some of the benefits that AI could offer.

Since then, AI technology has been exponentially progressing into a powerful tool that can generate flushed out designs and imagery in a matter of minutes. AI supercharges the conceptual design phase and increases project and staff efficiency. Its immense processing power gives it the ability to perform repetitive tasks with unmatched speed. This would prove beneficial in any sort of modular or repetitive construction.

What’s the Appeal?

With AI we are now given the opportunity to “browse” through designs. It can be a big challenge to come up with multiple varying iterations of a design, but with AI, Architects and Designers gain the ability to sift through a variety of iterations (that were completed quickly). This opens up staff availability/time as well as saves money in the earlier stages. Architects and designers use their knowledge and experience to iterate and create. If we were to combine this knowledge and experience with the vast database and speed that AI provides, we could come up with much more variety in our iterations at a much quicker rate.

Imagine this, you type “Hyper Realistic rendering of a Mountain Modern Hotel and Village” and a program like DALL-E or Midjourney pumps out 4 renderings to choose from in less than a minute. Carry that thought into Chat-GPT and type “Marketing Advertisement for new high-end Mountain Modern Hotel” and you’ll have everything you need to promote your new project. While you might have beautiful hyper realistic renderings and an advertisement that is 100% believable, none of what was generated by the AI is particularly inspired or thoughtful. How could it be? Let’s not forget that AI fills its database with a plethora of human creativity that is spread across the internet.

Can AI really Replace Architects?

All AI relies on user input. This user needs to have the knowledge, skill and understanding of the design process to be able to use AI in a way that would be beneficial to the design process.

Without this understanding and knowledge, it would be difficult to say whether or not any of the AI designs would work in a project scenario. This is due to the fact that “AI does not exist in the spatial realm perceived by ears, noses, hands, mouths, and eyes. It cannot spatially understand a site or its context; it cannot understand the history and politics of building because these are value judgments requiring human critical acumen.” source

Additionally, there is a great deal of liability associated with Architects and Architecture. There will always be the need for a final stamp, signature, or something of the equivalent stating that someone has taken responsibility for the final product that is to be built. Generally speaking, most Firms and Architects are risk-averse. There is undoubtedly a strong level of comfort in the familiar, and with that simple fact, many are swayed from any sort of innovation.

Final Thoughts

The marriage between AI and architecture has given rise to an era of innovation, where architects can unleash their creativity and design structures that shape our world in remarkable ways. AI's ability to augment creativity, enhance efficiency, promote sustainability, and foster collaboration has set the stage for a shift in architecture as we know it. As we embrace AI as a tool, architects stand at the cusp of a new era, one where their visionary designs are empowered and elevated by the potential of artificial intelligence. With AI as their ally, architects can continue to shape our built environment, transcending boundaries and creating awe-inspiring spaces that inspire and enrich our lives.

Ultimately, we will always need architects to be the final decision makers, problem solvers and liability holders. Architects have to consider each project's unique needs, expectations and constraints. The world of architecture will shift into this new era of AI and with that a new breed of AI infused Architect will emerge, but will the Architect be replaced, I highly doubt it.

Ps. can you guess which paragraph was written by AI?

Written by Aaron Golab

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