Automated Design

A new article by Lance Hosey asks: “Can Machines Design?” And it asks: “How might architecture change if computers take over the process entirely?”

I wrote about this in 2011:

“One might imagine a user-friendly device where the customer simply inputs information about the architectural program and some performance criteria; the tool could (invisibly) download site information and code requirements, then generate a variety of alternative designs optimized to the performance criteria. The user would choose his preferred option, and the process could repeat at another level of resolution, eventually including the full engineering of mechanical and structural systems—would you like concrete or steel? Clash detections, costing and scheduling, construction documents, all built in. Call it the iPlan. (The technology is not far off.) Clearly such a passive role is intolerable to architects and engineers, and those who educate them. The ability to choose and control the tools is fundamental to professionalism in the AE disciplines (for now).”

So I do believe that machines can design. Whether architects can tolerate it, is probably an irrelevant question in the long run, if such methods prove to be efficient and useful.

I could also imagine an automated design program having an architect-like avatar guiding clients through the process. You could work with Frank Lloyd Wright or Eero Saarinen someday!

Cite: Anthony Denzer and Jon Gardzelewski (2011). “Drawing and Modeling: Analog Tools in the Age of BIM,” AEI 2011: Building Integration Solutions (American Society of Civil Engineers): 44-53.