Site and AI: A Paradigm Shift | The Plan Journal

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Genevieve Baudoin
Bruce A. Johnson

AI’s potential is in its ability to sift through vast amounts of contextual data that can drive design decisions. It offers the opportunity to process information about a virtually limitless number of subjects, at a conscious or unconscious level. This has created what Thom Mayne describes as a “paradigm shift” in our perception of site. The architect can now curate, directing results based on AI to restore specificity to projects that, through the distance created between the real site and the computer model, we have lost along the way. We rely on technological workarounds to fix many designable issues in our buildings – an over-reliance on climate control, a willingness to place buildings directly in harm’s way (i.e., building on flood plains), and an ignorance of the context of a site (from archeology to gentrification). This paper offers a provocation: AI can create a return to site and construction sensibilities by harnessing layered data sets such as orientation, topography, climate, or even social fabric. Can AI chart a course towards less reliance on technological band-aids in the production of building?