BIMagination

A ChatGPT rant and 3 major things architects use AI for today

Architects hate construction documentation, but that's where they make money, and they want to use GPT for the work they love?
🍿Bring out the popcorn.🍿

If someone asked you what the most discussed topic in the AEC industry was in the past 12 months, what would you say? It's hard to get around Generative AI.

I recently gave a talk about Generative AI (GPT) in architecture. I said yes to that because I loved the guy who invited me, but I saw minefields left and right.

First, I don't know anything about GPT. Nothing.

Second, I have the impression that there are many different ideas about what GPT is. Like how I never talk about Digital Twins in presentations. There are too many different ideas about what it is: a minefield. Especially when you don't know what you are talking about. So I ended up doing some research and paired it with my own experience, which I luckily know plenty about.

AI is not one tool. It's many. Many.

There are plenty of tools that market themselves as GPT for architecture today. I won't list or name them here, but there are plenty of resources out there that you can use (I'd recommend following Stjepan Mikulić).
What strikes me about most (all?) of them is that there seems to be a lot of misunderstanding about whether they are AI, GPT, or neither, and very few of them are being used at scale. Much Ado About Nothing, then? The future will tell.

But if you walk around any random architecture office anywhere on the planet today, you will see dedicated souls with their turtlenecks and glasses leaning over a piece of CAD (yay) or BIM (boo), sometimes wandering into the model workshop to get a feeling of being an *actual architect*.
That said, there actually seem to be three major things that architects use AI for today, at scale:

Image generation for inspiration
Image generation for rendering
ChatGPT for stuff like everyone else

I don't think any of these tools are disruptive in the way we talk about AI as disruptive in architecture. I imagine a lot of design professionals are doing exactly the same.

I also read recently that architecture leaders think the greatest potential GPT has is mostly within conceptual design and marketing.
What surprised me about that is that those are the activities that architects love doing most. Construction documentation and administration were way down, as was finance. (Big surprise there?)
I understand that we are mostly interested in the technology that supports the values and activities that we enjoy doing the most, but is there, not something to be said about removing the work we hate as well?

Should not Generative AI free architects from all the dreaded man-hours spent on BIM?
The problem with that is that that is where architects make money. This conundrum is something that I am genuinely interested in seeing play out.