Will Artificial Intelligence Replace Architects?
Will Artificial Intelligence replace architects in their roles? In the May 2023 edition of Building magazine, Thomas Lane suggests that AI has the potential to automate up to 37% of the tasks typically carried out by architects and engineers. This automation, though, is likely to target routine and less creative tasks, allowing professionals to concentrate on more strategic and imaginative aspects of their work.
Just as Revit and 3D software did not replace architects but only transformed their workflows, the same principle holds for AI tools. AI is poised to bring about new tasks, such as AI management, alongside existing responsibilities, signaling a shift in how architects work.
In early 2023, the abundance of images generated by Midjourney and similar AI systems has left many architects pondering its implications. While there’s a general concern about the possibility of Artificial Intelligence becoming all-powerful, architects are also intrigued and actively exploring how AI can be integrated into their practice, seeking to grasp its potential applications in their field.
It is improbable that AI will fully replace architects shortly. The architectural landscape is evolving rapidly, and although new applications will continue to surface, we are gradually gaining a clearer comprehension of AI’s capabilities and boundaries. This developing understanding is shaping a more defined perspective of how AI can impact and transform our professional endeavors.
We have nothing to worry about until AI wins an architectural design competition.
Possible Future Uses
1) Design Options Based on Specific Criteria
AI algorithms are highly skilled at handling vast amounts of data and, when equipped with the right tools, have the potential to generate design choices. In the future, architects will likely input criteria like budget, space needs, or sustainability objectives, enabling AI to produce optimized design alternatives for human review.
2) Site Analysis and Mass Studies
AI tools, such as Autodesk Forma, can extract urban information from open-access databases and help you quickly create mass studies considering environmental data, floor areas, building shapes, heights, setbacks, building codes, etc.
3) Generative Design:
AI can rapidly produce visual designs when given specific guidelines, including photorealistic images. Architects can leverage generative design software like Stable Diffusion, Midjourney, Dall-e 2, or Adobe Firefly to investigate different material choices and spatial designs during the initial project phases. Furthermore, hand-drawn sketches or existing images can be used as a starting point for creating more elaborate designs, iterating on them, or making modifications.
4) Pattern Recognition
AI can analyze and identify patterns within extensive datasets, spanning architectural drawings, technical configurations, and historical projects. Currently, the process of creating a database that’s easily accessible and analyzable by AI is complex, but it is anticipated to become more manageable in the future as technology advances.
5) Coding – Custom Apps, Programs, and Plugins
AI can assist in coding and developing your applications and software, potentially aiding in organizing your design resources for building databases. It would be particularly beneficial if there were open-source code libraries where architects could collaborate and share information, as opposed to the current situation where libraries are often isolated and fragmented under corporate ownership.
6) Energy Efficiency and Sustainability
AI can help architects design energy-efficient and sustainable buildings. By analyzing factors such as climate data, building orientation, material, and energy consumption patterns, AI algorithms can recommend design modifications that make building energy use more efficient and reduce its environmental impact.
7) Data Summarization
AI can additionally assist in condensing information from books and reports, making it easier for you to locate essential details swiftly while still having the source available for review. ChatGPT is currently introducing plugins, initially accessible to Premium subscribers, that broaden the range of data that can be analyzed, including real-time internet data.
8) Building Maintenance
AI tools have been developed to analyze video feeds and detect weaknesses in areas such as road conditions and the exteriors of existing buildings, which enables early detection of required maintenance for infrastructure.
9) Bim and Project Management
Building Information Modeling (BIM) is a digital representation of a construction project, encompassing geometric data, materials, and other pertinent information. AI can analyze BIM data, spot potential conflicts or clashes, optimize schedules, and aid in project management activities, thus enhancing coordination and diminishing errors in the construction process.
10) Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality
Architects can harness the power of AI-driven virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) technologies to create visualizations and presentations of their designs. These immersive experiences enable stakeholders to navigate 3D virtual environments at various scales, even life-size (1:1 scale), to study spatial connections and make better-informed decisions regarding the building’s design and layout.
11) Cost Estimation and Material Selection
AI algorithms can scrutinize historical cost data, building material specifications, and market trends, offering precise cost estimates and material recommendations. Architects can utilize this data to make well-informed choices that align with budget restrictions and project needs. To employ this, you might need to establish a database and establish a method for AI to access it unless an open-source or subscription-based database for such information becomes accessible in the future.
While AI is unlikely to cause mass job losses for architects shortly, it will fundamentally change the nature of our profession. To effectively embrace new tools and evolving knowledge, architects must remain current and continually update their skill sets.
The present moment calls for proactive discussions and solutions. Architects must begin leveraging AI to maintain a competitive edge in an ever more competitive environment. We must acquaint ourselves with AI’s capabilities and elevate our proficiency to become “superusers.”
When examining architectural education, we find numerous disciplines that delve into the history of architecture but few that contemplate its future. What architects ought to be conceiving today is not just another structure but the future trajectory of our profession.