Information Architecture

Information Architecture

Artificial Intelligence is already making its mark on the construction industry. There’s more to come.

As an architect who moved to Palo Alto, Calif. (before this area became known as “Silicon Valley”), I experienced the gradual development and success of many of the new technologies that have transformed every industry, including the greater building industry (GBI), in the following decades.

At a presentation that I gave at a national building industry convention back in the early days, the first question I was asked was, “Why would an architect want to use a computer?” This was a valid question at the time. But it’s difficult to imagine not using a computer in our work today—it became a requirement that work for federal projects be done in computer-aided design (CAD) many years ago. 

And now, there are a number of nations exploring the idea of eventually requiring the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) for all buildings submitted for review and approval in their countries, which has led me to explore the use of AI in our industry.

What is Artificial Intelligence?

As the questions over the years became “What is email?”... “What is a website?” … and, currently, “What is artificial intelligence?” I enjoyed introducing new technologies and addressing the benefits that they can have across the GBI—especially those with a green building focus. 

In fact, a large portion of the work that I do is not just the architecture of buildings, but “Information Architecture,” helping companies produce technology beneficial to the GBI. Over the decades, I’ve enjoyed doing this with NASA, Adobe, Apple, and a number of other companies and universities. I’m currently beta-testing some AI products that help these entities develop products with uses in the GBI in mind.

Smart Cities image Mar-Apr 2024 300

Artificial Intelligence, which is becoming a household word, will soon become a word for households.


So, what is AI? My current answer is that it’s a technology that will provide us with “great assistance at remarkable speed, regarding the management of the work that we do every day, that currently takes an incredible amount of our time”—with increased efficiency and accuracy. That will be a major benefit as AI becomes more mature and useful to us in our everyday work. 

Another aspect of AI: “AI isn’t one thing.” The technology is being applied separately in many areas, in many ways: voice-to-text, text to images, etc. AI will also continue to contribute amazing benefits to medicine, healthcare, and other industries.

Many of our clients are already using AI in some form, and in the future they may expect that people in the building industry will be using it. They may even be selecting which companies they hire based on their use of AI. The possibility that use of AI may be a requirement to get a building permit in the future in some jurisdictions is what motivates me to explore AI and to identify its future benefits to the GBI.

Where does AI help the Building Industry?

Here are some of the areas where AI can assist the GBI: 

  • Design and planning
  • Construction management
  • Building materials and systems
  • Predictive analytics
  • Automation
  • Health and safety
  • Customer service
  • Quality control
  • Sustainability
  • Facility management

I’m not the only one with an interest in AI. In January, the National Institute of Building Sciences (NIBS) held a meeting on the use of AI in the GBI: “The Intersection of AI and Building Sciences: A new era of Intelligent Infrastructure.”

This was a transitional moment for the U.S. building industry. Discussion and demonstrations of the technology were given. The response was an overwhelming sense of interest in really exploring what AI can accomplish across the entire building industry.

The dangers of AI

So much has been written about the dangers of AI that I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge the questions and concerns of “AI being used for bad things.” Briefly, I’ll just say that blaming AI for doing bad is the equivalent of saying that cars are bad because they can be used for a bank robbery. 

The intentions of the users of the technology determine what the technology is used for. The technology itself does not determine that. And because AI can be used for so many good things, it is prevailing. AI can help all people who choose to use it to advance their own profession, educational setting or trade.

AI can help Credit iStockgorodenkoff

AI can help the building industry with its design and planning, construction management, predictive analytics, and more Credit: iStock/gorodenkoff


AI and Green Building

AI will be a significant contributor to information management in the areas of green building and sustainability. Many of the topics that Green Builder Media’s CEO Sara Gutterman mentions in her awareness-raising presentations can be assisted by AI. (See her blog for more.

If your reaction to Sara’s presentations is “How are we going to do all this?”—think it over. AI will be assisting us with the ability to address these issues in our own businesses and more!