Is Technology Creating Lazy Architecture?

architect sleeping on desk

Architectural technology is having profound effects on this industry. The introduction of software into the design field has drastically changed the ways in which architects work and the design possibilities to which they are now privy.

The introduction of the architectural technologist – an expert in design technology – is bringing the use of these kinds of software and information technology tools into the mainstream and transforming the industry.

The software programs are countless, but each rely on the basic notion of computer imaging in designing. Where once architects would sketch and construct design concepts, they are now able to enter the information into a computer, allowing the design process to be faster and more accurate.

The programs allow designers to truly see how their structures will look, especially now through their collaboration with BIM software. The software also allows designers to interact with their surrounds and cope under different pressures, and allows for architectural experimentation without safety or monetary risk.

There is no doubting the value of architectural technology. However, there is an argument that while technology allows designers architectural freedom and almost infinite possibilities, it may very well be stunting creativity.

When asked by Big Think if he thought technology was dramatically improving design, Yale School of Architecture dean Robert A. M. Stern’s response was mixed.

“It’s made more possibilities, and it has resulted in some buildings of extraordinary beauty,” says Stern.

He proceeds, however, to discuss the drawbacks of focusing on one aspect of modern beauty and architectural greatness that is easy to fall back on using these technologies.

“(In) producing a bland uniformity in our cities, including our city of New York,  it’s a question of how much glass is appropriate?” says Stern.

Many who entered the industry without the influence of technological elements still fall back onto traditional means of design. Stern himself has relied on sketching models and constructing them out of clay. This may seem like nostalgia for the old methods, but there is artistry in working with tactile forms which, if forgotten altogether, could stunt the creative and artistic element that is so very imperative in design.

While technology has driven this industry into new realms, it is perhaps unwise or even incorrect to suggest it is entirely superior to traditional architecture. Stern notes the greatness of the Pantheon as an example of pre-technology architectural greatness, standing out among numerous other architectural examples that even with our technological foundation have not been recreated or even neared in design excellence.

Technology often improves the work we do, but it should not completely replace traditional means. Modernity does not have to be mundane and the human element that goes into the built form is what makes it so unique, allowing it to stand the test of time.

By Tim Moore
© 2012 DesignBuild Source. All rights Reserved. Reproduction without explicit permission is prohibited.