Full disclosure—I just discovered Netflix last month. But, with 35 years of experience in architecture and design, I suppose I’m qualified to write about the ways evolving technology has affected design and the business of architecture.
Communication – We still utilize hand sketches, and pen and ink renderings to communicate initial design intent. But, we also use computer generated plans, renderings, and photorealistic images. 3D printers and laser cutters can create scale models in a few hours that used to take model makers weeks. Virtual and augmented reality technologies allow our clients to interact with their buildings before they are even built.
Delivery – 35 years ago, construction documents were drawn by hand. 30 years ago, those drawings moved into the computer and were made with Computer-Aided Drafting and Design (CADD) software, though they still remained two-dimensional. Today, drawings are made using Building Information Modeling (BIM) software. BIM programs use three-dimensional, digital models of buildings that capture information about nearly every component that goes into a building. Evolving technology also allows us to explore parametric design, and run daylighting and energy consumption studies in almost real-time.
Buildings – Transferring BIM models to builders speeds up their process and minimizes construction conflicts. The performance of almost every building material has advanced, including concrete, steel, insulation, glass, not to mention advances in mechanical and electrical systems and products.
This just scratches the surface of the impacts of technology on designers and clients. It’s important to remember that these are all just tools designers have at their disposal. People remain the heart of design, and any technology is only as good as the final experience it helps create. After all, our real business will always be improving people’s worlds.
article by Ron Dick, AIA, LEED AP, Design Collaborative
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