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AI has quickly swept through the architectural industry, equipping firms with a myriad of tools and systems which assist with the creative process.
One area in which AI is still considered rudimentary, however, is the business management side of the industry—an area which could have the biggest impact with the potential for increased efficiency and precision.
By analyzing the areas where AI has already made an impact, we can see how it could further benefit the architectural industry, as well as identifying some of the challenges that accompany its popularity.
Design optimization is currently one of AI’s most comprehensive features for architectural firms as it has proven to increase efficiency and intricacy of designs. For example, architects are now able to simulate various scenarios to assist them in building performance analysis, allowing for greater time to be spent on the creative process.
This creative process is assisted by AI’s generative design, allowing architects to produce text, images, and, most importantly, models in much less time than if done manually. AI algorithms can be fed and trained by architects to learn their design process, further enhancing the speed in which projects can be drawn up.
Building Information Modeling (BIM) gives us a great look into how AI can assist architectural firms as it’s already integrated AI into its process. BIM itself has revolutionized the construction process of projects with its collaborative platform, allowing for digital representations of buildings to be planned, designed, and executed.
Coupling this with the addition of AI, BIM now has a system that can learn, recognize, and analyze information while making predictions, distinguishing patterns, and producing suggestions.
This design aspect of AI has captured the industry's interest and is where research is currently being focused, as it can provide both optimized and generative design solutions. However, the business transformational potential of AI remains an area that deserves more development and attention.
The business aspect of AI is often overlooked by its more aesthetic design counterpart, and yet it’s extremely beneficial for project management in architecture. AI for project management can assist with foreseeing obstacles, planning efficiently, providing cost analysis and estimates, and streamlining project flows.
When considering AI for the business transformation of an architectural firm, allowing AI tools to look back through similar past projects will allow it to build a future project planning system. Providing access to budget stages, resources required, fee proposals, skills matrix and employee databases will provide AI with the right history and knowledge base to build a project that will highlight potential risk and waste factors while optimizing efficiency.
With the right information and learning, this AI-built system can then be used to automate bid processes, reducing the time that architects spend on potential projects and allowing more time to be spent on the creative side of the industry. For example, AI could play a role in estimating project costs, predicting timelines, and highlighting risk factors based on past projects.
The future of AI within architectural firms is still being fleshed out as the idea of AI versus the practicality is still being explored. However, there’s no doubt that it’s already revolutionized the design space for architects, particularly with VR integrations and 3D modeling capabilities.
On the business side, AI’s full potential is yet to be discovered—however the current demand for automated systems cements its place in the AEC industry.
As the industry moves further toward data-driven design, streamlining the planning phases will become increasingly imperative in order to reduce costs and increase efficiency. With AI able to leverage a firm's historical data to predict logical timelines, practical schedules, and challenges, it will become a crucial tool in any growing AEC business.
However, as with any new technology, there are some challenges with AI that are yet to be explored. For architects, accurate data is imperative, and the wrong prediction or analysis of information could be catastrophic. Within AI there are current issues with AI bias that would need to be overridden in order to supply the correct solutions. Data ownership is also a key issue, specifically around how AI would use or protect the information it is fed, highlighting wider conversations that will need to be held in the AEC space.
AI has cemented a place in the architectural industry as of 2024 and is an increasingly useful tool in both design and business capacities. AI for design has become a valuable tool for architects to have ready in their armory, particularly as the industry relies further on digital design and cloud-based systems. AI for business is still in a growth period as its full potential has not yet been actualized. However, as interest and demand grow, so do its capabilities and conversations surrounding its place in project management, which will provide the basis for future use perspectives.