Wow, it's been another month since the last update. In a strange way, 2020 has been flying by, but things in the past couple weeks have been slowing down. The United States is in the middle of a quarantine. Global markets are crumbling. I haven't left my apartment in five days. All the while, I'm busy working from home. I'm happy that I completed my ARE's at the end of the last month -- while I had expected to take some vacation time this month, I'm just happy to use this quarantine time to reconnect with my family and friends. We're definitely all in this together now, however long it will last. Yet, I am still constantly thinking about architecture, and thinking about what's next.
HIERARCHIES OF UNDERSTANDING
Now that the ARE's are completed, I want to find out the next phase of my architectural explorations. As my headline stated, I am looking for a way to bridge physical and digital design environments, and consider the future of "building". I am truly grateful for taking the tests, because the ARE's allowed me to deeply reflect on the fundamentals of architecture and the profession. It has revealed to me 1)why it exist (people need good shelter), 2)why it is important (protect the public), and 3)how it can be improved upon (so many things). One thing I have been complaining about since college is the apparent slowness of technological adaptation in the field. After being in the field these past few years, I have noticed that it is not apparently slow at all - rather, it is actually happening quickly and right before our eyes.
There are hierarchies of concepts within architecture. Think of it as a pyramid.
LEVEL 1: THE EXPERIENCE OF ARCHITECTURE
The first foundation level is simply understanding that architecture is the design and construction of buildings. This is the human experience of architecture. This is what most people fall in love about architecture, and why young designers go to architecture school.
LEVEL 2: THE BUSINESS OF ARCHITECTURE
The second level is understanding the project delivery process that is required to produce buildings. This involves the traditional understanding of design phases, business standards, client-contractor relationships, and the profession (Competition, Programming, SD, DD, CD, Bidding and CA). This is the human interface of architecture. The second level enables the first level. This is the level of traditional practice.
LEVEL 3: THE SOFTWARE OF ARCHITECTURE
The third level is understanding the mechanics and processes that go behind the development/management of architectural projects. This includes Building Information Modeling, Project Work Planning Tools, and Cost Estimation and Tracking. Primarily though, it is understanding systems and information (in BIM). This is the "front-end" human-machine interface of architecture. The third level enables the previous levels.
LEVEL 4: THE CODE BEHIND ARCHITECTURE
The fourth level is understanding the data and processes behind tools like BIM -- the data processing, data analysis, and data science that goes behind creating architectural software. This includes the C++ "back-end" language behind programs like Revit, scripting integration through Python and Grasshopper, and creating the systems that enable information processing. This is the machine experience of architecture. This fourth level ensures that third level systems run smoothly.
FROM SCULPTURES TO SYSTEMS TO SCRIPTS
What these hierarchies of understanding reveal is that architecture has gradually shifted from sculpture to systems, and from systems to scripts. In the art and science of building, what has emerged as an omnipotent, overriding force in the profession is that buildings are aggregates of information. As data become the central commodity of the economy, the extraction and understanding of building data (costs, performance, efficiency) has trumped the understanding of art and design for its own sake. This ongoing trend eliminates design inefficiencies and eccentricities, inherent in pre-digital practices, thereby reducing human error and bad design judgement. With good oversight, the implementation of systems and scripts can increase the quality of production; without it, we risk proliferating counter-productive standards and laissez-faire, generic buildings. A mastery of the tools of production, including automation scripts and algorithms, is vitally important.