If you look back 10 years, would you have imagined where technology is today? Technology has incredible potential and with its rapid change, it can be a challenge to keep up. Think back further than 10 years to the Industrial Revolution, which then led to the Technology Revolution, and now we are in the early stages of the Artificial Intelligence Revolution.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is exactly what it sounds like, it’s a thinking computer system that can solve basic problems, such as keeping a car in its lane or maintaining temperature in a space. AI programs are task based, meaning systems know how to react when it comes across a certain problem. When several task-based programs come together they create a complex network functioning like a nervous system. The developers of these systems are trying to create programs that can identify the problems, evaluate them, and solve the problem, and this is what our brains do daily.
AI is changing all industries, but specifically let’s look at the architecture, engineering and construction industries.
Architectural hand-drawn plans have been replaced with programs such as AutoCAD and BIM to draw more efficiently with far fewer errors. Taking another step forward, BIM allows plans to be viewed in 3D or in virtual reality walk-throughs, creating a realistic representation of the space before completion. That’s a basic AI system, the BIM software guides us to design safer and better spaces by alerting the errors in our designs.
For engineers, AI is seen in programs such as Project Discover. The program makes recommendations based on physics principles and data records of challenges of the project. (Click here to watch a video.) For example, when a designer draws a column free hall, Project Discover suggests a proper structural ceiling/roof system to keep the space free of columns, and models those elements in the background. The system is on the networks, so it has access to real time and historic soil, wind, sun, weather, and other environmental data. AI also knows the challenges the surrounding projects faced, lessons learned data, and it has the Authority Holding Jurisdiction regulations and the owners civil report.
In construction, AI can assist with estimates to be closer to the exact cost, making construction predictable and cheaper, leading to a higher design budget. If designers were able to produce quality 3D models in BIM, then the model would be very close to the as-built model. The Construction AI would update the minor changes and hand the model of to the facilities operation AI to maintain the building. Thanks to advancing in construction technology and AI software, designers would be able to push the limits of design into complex geometries that were previously costly or impossible.
AI has made its way into the design industries and will continue to do so in the future, and the daily task for designers will change. Design jobs will still be there due to humanity’s unique traits like empathy and creativity that can’t be replicated in AI. However, these advancements will require designers to adopt additional skills and work more with technology. AI would allow firms to produce work more efficiently. The hard part will be learning new technologies. Existing designers will have to compete with more tech savvy recent graduates. For firms and designers to keep up, continuing education should start now. Firms should start to evaluate the latest tech and slowly adopt them, so their employees are up to date in this competitive economy.
Think back 10 years ago, how drawings were produced, and now think how designs will be made 10 years in the future. To assume that we will be working the same way as we are today would be foolish, those who can see the technology coming and preparing for it will have no issue when the future arrives. Our clients will demand us to keep up with the latest tech because if their industries are forced to adapt, then they will want us to be at that same level. Change is coming, the question is, are you ready for it and will you be able to adapt to the changes?
Shaheen has a master’s degree in architecture and a master’s degree in construction science. By examining, researching and consulting on projects, Shaheen leverages this collected knowledge to create optimal spaces for his clients.