Back in 2007, I lamented that technology is “all code.” In those days, as a AEC technology specialists, we were coming to the end of that age – when everything we wanted to do was all code.
Today, it’s a very different story. Not too surprisingly, we have tools available to us that are changing our industry – and I don’t recall writing a single line of code. AEC is embracing a strange sense of comradeship among the different disciplines. Perhaps we’ve either realized nobody listens to the complaining of just one sector or we’ve banded together in a survival mode.
Some time ago Integrated Project Delivery – still a vaporware concept – popped up out of nowhere. It is now driving the AEC industry to consolidate liability and production methodologies to capitalize on the various different expertise bases that exist in the industry. Ultimately, projects should be delivered quicker, cheaper and better designed. Regardless of the current state of hold-up in the industry to fully realize this dream, supporting technologies are pushing forward – such as: BIM, PIM and DAM to name a few.
We don’t write a lot (if any) code any more if we’re hopping on these bandwagons. This is a good thing. You can’t expect an Architect to write code to enable his or her workflow. Automating one-off needs, perhaps – but not the whole flow. Leave that to the IT department, and at that – in a limited capacity.
The purpose of code is to create electronic tools that can be used by one or more people. Fortunately, we’ve all but moved to models of developing for more than just the self. Ironically, we still find the one-off nature of many Architectural firms still dictating one-off code, too.
As our tools become more advanced, easier to use and understanding of how we use them, our practice will continue to go through a long-term normalization phase that will ultimately remove the idiosyncrasies within our industry that have long plagued us. We’ll be able to collaborate more. We can design better. We can design faster. We can design, period. Production work of decades past will become less and less of a burden.
We thought for a long time that the solution was to spend more time on our design and strategies. That was a result of the barriers that have been put in place (liability, in particular) by a dispassionate building industry intent only on quick, large profits. As we work to partner together more and more, we remove or change many of these boundaries.
Will Architects ever return to their former glory as societal icons? It’s not likely. After all, there are lots of them and the practice looks nothing like it did 1000 years ago when the pyramids were being constructed. Times have changed and they continue to do so.