Pre-Conference: A.I. in Architecture


ENGAGE 2023 PRACTICE + DESIGN CONFERENCE: Pre-Conference Technology Deep Dive

Artificial Intelligence in Architecture Practice and Design: Navigating Technology’s Role In Our Future Workplace

Presented by Damon Leverett, AIA, Senior Adjunct Lecturer, University of Arizona, President, AIA Arizona at ENGAGE 2023 Practice + Design Pre-Conference.

In a thought-provoking lecture delivered by Damon Leverett, the intersection of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and architecture took center stage, with a specific focus on the fascinating avenue of Image to Text. This comprehensive primer, grounded in meticulous observations and studies, sought to demystify AI’s role in reshaping the architectural profession.

Leverett began by prompting attendees to confront a crucial question: What is your greatest fear about AI in the architecture profession? This introspective query set the tone for a discourse that aimed to address both the promises and perils of integrating AI into architectural workflows.

AI in Architecture | Unfound Door
AI in Architecture | Unfound Door

A pivotal historical context was provided, revealing that the American Institute of Architects (AIA) is no newcomer to technological advancements, tracing its roots back to a conference in 1956. Leverett highlighted the sporadic evolution of AI tools over the years, from the advent of Google assistance to the omnipresence of Alexa, search engines, autocorrect, and Grammarly. The evolution of these tools underscored the gradual incorporation of AI into our daily lives, laying the groundwork for its application in the field of architecture.

The lecture emphasized the contemporary relevance of AI in architecture, pointing to the evolution of cloud technology as a key enabler. Leverett noted that the capacity to handle vast datasets securely in the cloud has propelled AI into the forefront of architectural innovation. The lecture then delved into various AI pathways, including Text to Text with Chat GPT, Text to Image exemplified by Midjourny, and other applications such as Text to Code and Text to Speech.

AI in Architecture | Unfound Door
AI in Architecture | Unfound Door

One of the standout applications highlighted was the use of Drone LiDAR in architecture, showcasing its ability to identify errors in construction processes. Among the AI platforms discussed, Stable Diffusion, Leonardo, and Midjourny were examined, with Midjourny emerging as a frontrunner, outperforming others by a significant margin.

The mechanics of AI-generated images were elucidated, with a focus on Machine Learning, Text to Image processes, and Natural Language Processing. Leverett emphasized the importance of alignment in generating desired outcomes and explored the diffusion process, drawing an analogy from a ball to illustrate the transformation from possibility to certainty.

Practical insights into writing effective prompts for AI were shared, outlining a systematic approach that starts with the highest priority information and progressively adds details. The “magic word” concept, exemplified by terms like “molten glass” or “cubic,” showcased the ability of AI to produce visually stunning outcomes based on specific prompts.

Ethical considerations in AI-driven design were underscored, urging practitioners not to use living architects’ names in prompts and emphasizing the distinction between copying a building and emulating a style. Leverett signed his work with “+AI,” highlighting the collaborative nature of AI and human creativity. The lecture touched upon AI’s capacity to rapidly produce architectural precedents, a process that would traditionally require extensive global exploration.

AI in Architecture | Unfound Door
AI in Architecture-The_Unfound_Door-7655 | Unfound Door

The discourse then delved into the realms of Blending, Weighting, and Editing in AI, with a focus on techniques that were still in their infancy, including the combination of images and prompts. The concept of “Describe,” where AI generates textual descriptions of images, showcased the potential of AI in enhancing architectural communication.

Ethical considerations resurfaced, delving into questions surrounding copyright infringement and the use of living architects’ names. Leverett presented case studies, including an exploration of AI as an inspirational tool in a high school gym project and its role as a modeling and processing tool in a technology museum.

The lecture closed with a contemplation of the ethical dimensions of AI in the art world, particularly in a case where AI-generated art bore a resemblance to an artist’s work. Leverett urged caution, reminding attendees not to rely on AI results as absolute facts. The presentation acknowledged that the field is in beta, and while AI is a powerful tool for critical thinking in education, it will continue to evolve over the next 4-5 years.

In essence, Damon Leverett’s lecture provided a rich tapestry of insights, navigating the intricate landscape of AI in architecture. Attendees left with not only a heightened awareness of the transformative potential of AI but also a sense of responsibility to wield this technology ethically and thoughtfully in the pursuit of architectural innovation.

*Text composed by ChatGPT with the prompt: Write an 500-1000 word editorial summary for a lecture about AI in architecture. Use my notes: (human authored notes here).

AI in Architecture | Unfound Door
AI in Architecture | Unfound Door

See more ENGAGE 2023 Practice + Design Conference coverage at aiacolorado.org/conference.

Also, keep an eye out for Damon’s conversation with Adam Wagoner on the Architect-ing podcast to be released in the coming weeks.

About the Author

Jenny Trumble, AIA

In her more than ten years of practicing architecture, Jenny has contributed to many award-winning residences in Aspen, Telluride, and New York, as well as commercial developments in China, and resort communities throughout the Western United States. With her strong design insight and ability to think outside the box, she enjoys bringing thoughtful and innovative solutions to her clients. 

© AIA Colorado 2024
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