Measuring For Success

The Time Has Come for Architects to Integrate the Methods Associated With Digital Fabrication Into Their Practices. This Is Not An Issue of Technology, but One of Design Management and Communication.

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The era of integrating CAD systems into architectural practice is firmly behind us. It is only a matter of time before the makers of AutoCAD will phase out their ubiquitous CAD program and replace it with a more sophisticated software that is better able to catalogue and visualize three- dimensional digital information from conception to construction. Architects need not panic, as they will be able to learn the benefits of maintaining their design integrity while increasing the effectiveness of communicating their ideas to fabricators and contractors. The results will mean transparent budgeting, more efficient installations and a reduction in design and technical information being lost as it moves across the many trades and consultants involved in all project ranges.

Paul Celento's article entitled "Innovate or Perish" found in the Spring 2007 edition of the Harvard Design Magazine offers a critical review of why it is necessary for architects to change their existing work habits. Celento argues that a primary source of architects' discontent is that they are often hired to provide custom-design services in a product-infatuated market. Few clients understand what it takes to develop and design a new product and even fewer are willing to pay for it. Fortunately, advances in digital fabrication are creating new opportunities to rapidly create new designs and prototypes, but a large percentage of the profession remains unwilling to explore these new technologies. As Celento argues, "Architects' refusal to embrace technological innovations invites their extinction. Less hidebound professions are ruthlessly shoving their way onto the turf--once the sole domain of architects.

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