Digital Transformation Architecture Firms
The game of architecture and design is changing. With new technologies being introduced into the marketplace everyday, architecture firms need to make sure they do not get left behind. Let’s take a look at how architecture and design has changed, where it’s going, and how architecture firms can prepare for it.
Tech Has Already Affected Architecture and Design
The field of architecture and design has already seen what new technologies can do. CAD and BIM have both drastically changed the way architects conduct business. Architects and designers no longer rely on blueprints and pen-and-paper design plans but rather use precise 2D and 3D CAD design files that can be easily shared, collaborated on, and edited. Firms implement BIM in order to incorporate 4D (time) and 5D (cost) into their design plans, making it even easier to work with clients on their needs. The field of architecture and design, however, is not done changing.
New Technologies Are Being Developed
Tangible models help both architects and clients visualize their designs. Traditionally, making a scale model is tedious, costly, and requires a skilled craftsmen to assure accuracy. 3D printing is changing this. 3D printed designs are not only quick, cost effective, and extremely accurate but also are only a few clicks away. With a 3D printer in-house, architects would be able to submit a design to be printed when they arrive, work for a couple hours while the design is being printed, and have the model done by lunch.
With virtual reality (VR) companies and clients have the opportunity to explore and interact with their design in a whole new way. Often, the hardest part of getting a client excited by a design is convincing them that the project will look as good if not better than the 2D or 3D model. With VR, however, architects and designers will be able to sell their designs to clients in a fully immersive VR environment. Clients will be able to travel through rooms and hallways and may even be able to open and close windows and doors and turn lights on and off. This new form of presentation allows the design to come to life and gives an almost tangible, interactive model that the client can play with. VR will not only limit the amount of revisions needed as clients will be able to more easily point out the problems they want fixed but also gives firms a competitive edge over other, less tech-savvy, companies when selling their designs.
AI and Machine Learning
Artificial intelligence (AI) is a computer program that uses tons of data to do things once thought to be reserved for humans such as visual perception, voice recognition, and decision making. Although computers are not yet good at solving open ended problems that require creative solutions, what AI is good at is processing data and doing repetitive tasks. Architects know that a project requires hours and hours of research and tons of revisions. AI could do the busy work for you. AI could review building codes, client info, zoning data, and even past designs and provide design options and possibilities to the architect that follow the set out criteria leaving the architect with a lot more time and several tested design variations.
Where does that leave architecture and design firms?
The main difficulty of architecture firms is to increase productivity while maintaining the quality of the product and still meeting client needs. Technology could clear a path for architecture firms to this goal. As Harvard Design Magazine says, “To avoid obsolescence, architects need to increase demand for their skills by embracing emerging technologies that both stimulate and satiate consumer desires.”
Large firms with large IT teams have adopted and implemented CAD and BIM almost across the board and are preparing for the new wave of tech, but many small to medium architecture firms, however, are being left behind. Many firms not only lack the time to implement new technologies but also lack the time to analyze which technologies they need. Also many lack knowledgeable personnel who are able to fix these problems and maintain the technological legitimacy of their business.
How can architecture firms stay up-to-date?
Define an IT Strategy
It is more important than ever that firms define an IT strategy. Finding the time and motivation to do so can be extremely difficult, but firms that assess their business, figure out what their technology needs are, and take concrete steps towards better implementing and maintaining technologies are better suited to face the modern age of technology. As for firms that can not find the time to do so, in-house IT and managed services may be best.
Generally, larger architecture firms hire in-house IT teams to maintain their technology and keep their company up-to-date technologically. Although this seems ideal, many small and medium firms do not have the funds to reallocate their resources towards hiring in-house IT which is where a managed service provider (MSP) comes in. An MSP will be able to assess a company’s needs and will take on some or all of a firm’s IT. An MSP will not only provide service engineers who will keep a firms technology running smoothly but also acts as a virtual CIO (vCIO) that will analyze a firm’s business processes and facilitate technology changes. An MSP allows firms who can not afford in-house IT to stay tech-savvy and maintain their technology while still doing their jobs and not breaking the bank.