He cited many other applications of AI already used in practice, including bid writing, marketing, data processing, code writing for interoperability and copy editing. He anticipates many further future uses including smart intranet, fee estimation, legal review, building compliance, and live pricing, engagement, and carbon calculation.
‘Like Alice in Wonderland, we can either choose to ignore it or jump down the rabbit hole, where there is a lot of uncertainty but [where] there also exists a lot of possibilities,’ she said.
‘The role of the architect remains crucial because it brings to the table not only creativity and innovation but also aesthetics, emotion, collaboration and ethics coupled with responsibility,’ she said.
Tsigkari advised practices to consider how they manage their data, and understand the IP implications – ‘a huge risk’ – of using certain AI tools, and the different ways that the models they use have been trained.
He sees ‘tremendous potential’ for architects to ‘leverage the technology to boost productivity and creativity’, saying: ‘You’ll find different opportunities in different areas.’ He added that ‘thoughtful change management’ would also be required for smooth delivery with the least negative impact – AI could potentially replace some jobs.
Four industry experts sought to demystify the way practices can harness the potential of AI at a time of rapid change: Martha Tsigkari, senior partner, head of applied research and development at Foster + Partners; Keir Regan-Alexander, principal of Arka Works; Pablo Zamorano, head of geometry and computational design at Heatherwick Studio; and Bret Tushaus, vice president, product management at Deltek.
‘It’s an organisation-wide issue.’ he said. ‘You need to think about your whole processes and you need leadership involved … It will touch all parts of your organisation, so you need a holistic view.’
In addition to generative design, she cited the use of surrogate machine-learning models to aid predictive analysis, and also knowledge dissemination. Fosters has already introduced an in-house AI search tool for its design guidelines which uses natural language, and is now extending this to search drawings. The practice is also building its own generative machine-learning portal.
‘It’s a more fluid and direct route to validation,’ he said.
Zamorano advised practices to fully engage with AI. ‘Go for these tools – they won’t go away – and learn about them and what they do, how they work, and think then what you need to use them for. And totally embrace them.’
Tushaus agreed. ‘Start with a taskforce, a group that’s very diverse in terms of experience and education, with dedicated time to determine what a firm can leverage from an AI perspective,’ he said.
Get on board or get left behind – that was the broad message of an AJ webinar, run in association with project management software company Deltek, on the game-changing impact and opportunities of artificial intelligence in architecture.
In association with