top of page

AI: A New Era of Design Technology

In the late ‘90s and aughts, this thing called “Revit” was invented and took the AEC/O industry by storm. It promised to integrate data and information into our design, production, and operations practices for better project coordination and outcomes. It was out with AutoCAD, in with Revit, even if certain people had to be dragged kicking and screaming into training sessions. What a time to be alive! 

Since then, BIM has matured and is no longer new news. For a while, I’ve felt like our industry has been due for another big technology leap. Then AI came, and it just may be that jump I was looking for. 

AI in 2023 seems to be to AEC/O what BIM software was at its advent, and I think it’s the real deal. It’s easy to be a bit jaded and skeptical, though. In recent years, among other things, we were promised that robots would imminently replace construction workers. (They haven’t.) Certain companies were going to completely transform buildings into vertically integrated products. (They went under.) Then, apparently, we would be moving toward designing NFT-driven buildings in the Metaverse. (Maybe someday, but this was a bold assumption, given that VR headsets still made many people seasick.) In comparison, I struggle to wrap my head around the fact that AI has only been mainstream for about a year, yet it has already had a significant impact on our day-to-day lives. 

At STG, we’re constantly on the lookout for ways to harness new technology in our quest for design excellence, and we’re already using AI to enhance our design processes in certain ways that help us work faster and more creatively. Big picture, I’m excited about the freedom that AI will help bring to design. While BIM has arguably been good enough at what it promised, it has also created its own set of design challenges due to its rigidness. One of my big hopes, since current AI tools are good at image-based tasks, is that hand drawing will return forefront of architectural and design practice (and education). When designers can ideate and turn sketches into reality more quickly, we have more time to iterate and work toward true design excellence. 

In my opinion, the best thing we can do as individuals is to educate ourselves about AI, especially how it works, its limitations, and what it is/isn’t. (Suspiciously, a lot of apps that were not “AI” before are suddenly now “AI”.) Then, be on the lookout for tools that seem interesting and could help us do what we do. Just as we did with Revit, we’ll all need to move forward together in this new era, so let’s tackle it head-on!

bottom of page