Automation in Practice: Building the future of Architecture(s), Engineering, and Construction

Population is estimated to exceed 10 billion people by the year 2050 requiring an immediate doubling of productivity in the AEC industry which includes Architecture (in all forms), Engineering, and Construction. At the same time, global resource scarcity is projected to limit access to basic resources with over half that population in areas where water is scarce. An already dire shortage of skilled labor has been exacerbated by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the perceived great resignation. Automation in AEC has the potential to address similar opportunities and challenges that automated manufacturing processes have helped to resolve in other industries resulting in decreased production time, greater material efficiencies, higher labor productivity, better worker health and safety, compensation for labor shortages, reduced environmental impact, and enhanced design opportunity, Put simply, automation has the potential to enable the AEC industry to safely meet the global building and infrastructural needs of an increasing population. Many exciting technological developments and industry trends signal that the time is ripe for automation to take hold as we proceed into the future of AEC.

Within this context, the Automation in Practice will explore automation across the AEC industry and includes thematic areas relating to design automation and design for automation; Design for Manufacturing and Assembly (DfMA) strategies; automated heavy machinery and equipment; off and on-site automation and robotics; and aspects of automation applied to building and landscape design, building and infrastructure production, and off and onsite construction. Beyond the geometric exuberance that often characterizes conversations about computational design and digital fabrication, Automation in Practice, will address the ways in which automation technologies are impacting the way the world builds and will support the future human needs through the built environment.  Students will gain contextual understand of why, how, and ways to engage in the automated future of AEC. Throughout the semester, special consideration will be given to the geographic, economic, cultural, and political forces that are enabling the introduction of automated tooling globally in all levels of access to resources, and to those that stand in the way.

  • In what ways will we as designers respond to the increasing development and adoption of automated technologies in practice?
  • What technological developments and needs are presenting compelling opportunities for alternative practices and new modes of working in the context of AEC?
  • As manufacturing and construction converge, what challenges and opportunities are presented?
  • How will we, as participants in all aspects of AEC, utilize automation to meet the needs of a growing population in all reaches of the earth and beyond?

Given the breadth of subject matter and opportunities in all aspects of design-to-construction processes for buildings, landscapes, infrastructure, etc. students from all disciplines are invited to participate and course assignments can be tailored to related to all disciplines and research interests within the programs at the GSD.