Architectural Technology is Helping Architects Plan Their Dream Designs
Key Takeaways: Architectural design technology provides access to more diverse data and analytical tools thus delivering a clearer picture of key requirements. Data analytics allows architects to be more efficient, manage risk and make better decisions faster, this allows for more time to be creative. AI tools are enabling architects to have a greater impact on the planning process Most architects are frustrated by the same experience: the final result is quite different from their original design. With the assistance of architectural technology, architects will gain their creativity back and have it be their sole focus. Frustrations We Share If you have had this frustrating experience, you are not alone. When I was a young architect, the office I worked for won a bid on a new project. I was excited to take part in the initial design process. From the very first day, I was constantly thinking about shapes, forms, and design tone, eagerly imagining how this new project would inspire others for years to come. Very quickly, starting from the very first meeting with our client, my dreams were shattered when I faced the harsh reality of budget constraints, engineering requirements, and a tedious process that threatened to squeeze every ounce of creativity out of me. Sound familiar? Whether you are taking part in the design and planning phases for a stadium, a museum, or a multi-family residential project, the planning process is long and complex. There are many hands stirring the pot: the owner, various consultants, financial advisors, and so on. By the end of the process, you barely recognize your original dream design. In an AIA report, stakeholders such as architects, owners, and general contractors were asked to rank the drivers of uncertainty in the construction planning process. Alongside unforeseen site conditions, which ranks among the top three factors cited by participants across the board, architects chose owner-driven changes and accelerated schedules as the leading forces behind project uncertainty. Owners and contractors, however, pointed to the design team's errors and omissions as the leading factors for uncertainty. The issue of unclear project requirements from the outset was identified by all parties as the top generator of owner-driven changes. Bridging the Gap with Technology I would argue that there is a way to bridge the gap between our dream design and the demands of owner/contractor stakeholders, and it is technology. Specifically, AI architectural technology. These technologies allow us to gain more insights, and thus gain control over the process. We are usually missing several sets of data that are needed to make the necessary adjustments, while also protecting our creative vision in architectural planning. In most cases, we, the architects, are not fully aware of site requirements and limitations. Another missing variable, which has a major influence, is the owner’s financial objectives and the calculations s/he have made in order to achieve them. The end result is that we usually spend too much time on tedious, repetitive iterations and tasks. Over the past five years, various architecture innovative technologies have been developed to help architects gain valuable insights and even help them to automate many of the SD-DD and CD-related tasks, specifically the manual ones that offer architects no added value. Is Generative Design Doomed to Fail? Many of you are already familiar with and are already using “Generative Design” tools. Generative design tools help architects discover dozens, and even hundreds, of design options that include sketch constraints and project goals. They solve the need to create what some would call “boring” building designs lacking a “soul” or a clear design concept. One of the main challenges of generative design, which is raised by Daniel Davis in his article “Generative Design is doomed to fail,” is that it offers hundreds of options without screening and ranking them according to methods used by architects in the design process. These tools have drastically improved over time, especially when combined with what I call “top-bottom” analysis in the form of AI-powered planning platforms. These platforms are helping architects free up more time so they can focus on creative solutions. AI-Powered Planning Platforms Making an Impact While time is an important factor in creating space for creativity, architects today understand that data is king. If we want to take an active role in creating space for our creativity, then we have to approach the planning process differently. We need data analysis tools. One of the main technologically-driven developments in the industry today is the use of AI architecture software. In our industry, in particular, these platforms allow architects to access valuable data and to conduct a deep analysis that is pivotal in creating designs that fit our vision and design concept while taking into consideration stakeholder demands. Remember the key drivers of uncertainty ranked by architects in the AIA report? Today, many software platforms help bridge the gap between our dream design and the demands of stakeholders. These platforms aggregate and analyze a tremendous amount of data to help architects collect more information about a site, and thus gain greater control over a project and the challenges that may arise along the way. In recent years, the number of relevant data sources has significantly increased, leading to new analytical tools that can help architects predict various considerations such as site challenges and opportunities, project costs according to the preferred construction method, and even architectural and MEP strategies per project type. With one click of a button, architects can balance our vision and client cost constraints. We can take control by including customer ROI goals in our design and having an algorithm analyze and compare them to various data sets. Architects can also save time, effort, and money by conducting an energy analysis early on in the design process. Taking the Lead in the Planning Process For too long, we architects have taken a back seat in the planning process while trying to fulfill stakeholder requirements and needs. The latest technological developments allow us to take the wheel in the planning process for the first time. By embracing design technology, we can begin each project with more data, AI superpowers for analysis, and a greater overview of key requirements, all of which will enable us to better serve our clients while protecting our creative space. The architecture industry is in the midst of a technological revolution and the future has never looked brighter. Are you interested in learning how to integrate SWAPP’s AI platform in your next project? Talk to a SWAPP specialist.