Gerard Heumann

What do you wish to create?

What do you wish to create?

What will artificial intelligence mean for the architectural profession? Some pros and cons of this dramatic new development.

A long list of advantages for the architectural profession are claimed for AI. To name but a few: almost immediate site analysis, material and energy consumption patterns leading to sustainability and reducing environmental impacts. Instant images will be produced mechanically, information constantly augmented. The time needed to arrive at design solutions will be lowered significantly, design alternatives generated speedily, enabling architects to take on more projects than ever before.
Yet others predict that architecture, a blend of art and science, is one of the professions likely to be hit hardest by AI as most tasks in architectural offices are of a technical nature. OECD warns that close to 40% of architect’s jobs may eventually be impacted. Similar concerns were raised when CAD -computer-assisted design, took firm hold in the early 90’s.

On the other hand, AI may further the influence of technicians over thinkers and designers in practice and academia.

One highly questionable result of the digital revolution has been the evolution of enormous global architectural firms offering comprehensive services tied to the building industry. Foster and Partners based in London, has offices on four continents with over 2000 employees commanding over 100 technologies. AI merely adds several more. Yet many of their technical staff’s jobs may be in jeopardy.
Smaller firms will have to master AI in order to survive. Those who decide not to proceed beyond their normal practices will surely be at risk.

Many of the largest countries in the world – China, the US, Argentina and Mexico, for example, are building at an ever larger scale. I recently forwarded Foster’s proposal for a 170 kilometer long linear skyscraper, 500 meters high and 200 meters wide, named “The Line”, slated to house nine million people! In the Saudi Arabian desert, to a friend, a Professor of Architecture. His response, a single word: “Crazy!” AI will be utilized to design these gargantuan problematic projects rapidly.

While architectural design technology – applied science, continues to grow at an exponential rate, why have we seen design quality hit rock bottom? ChatGPT will generate soulless images for architects at blazing speed but at a very heavy price: the loss of intuition and the human touch. Science has no morals and when there’s no shared morality there’s no society. The social implications of AI need to be studied in depth.

Another important aspect: as repetitive administrative and data analysis tasks are among the most exposed to AI, which can deal with them at incredible speed, Israel’s bloated, inefficient and inept planning and building bureaucracy can become far more compact, professional and competent. If only this were true.

Most unfortunately, the insatiable drive for short-term personal profit on the part of building developers, fully backed by our local authorities, remains the dominant factor here. AI will speed up the project designs of the wealthy and powerful.
Seen from every conceivable point of view – human scale, the design of the public realm, continuity and unity, artistic excellence and attention to detail, Haussmann’s Paris, designed by hand and built between 1853 and 1870 for Napoleon III over 150 years ago, wins easily even today, hands down.

Gerard Heumann – Architect and Town Planner, Jerusalem

About the Author
Gerard Heumann is an architect and town planner in Jerusalem.
Related Topics
Related Posts