What a Time to Be an Architect

With access to tech that previous generations could only dream of, modern architects are ready to reshape the world in exciting ways.

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Modern computing and digital fabrication make exciting and complex designs possible, and at speeds that were never possible before.

We’re in the midst of a rapid shift in the way we design architecture, says Brady Peters, assistant professor of architecture at the University of Toronto. That shift is largely driven by the move from working manually at a drafting board to working digitally, with computers being the everyday design tool for young architects.

“We’re in this period of massive change,” says Peters. “I think we’re really only just now realizing the potential of the computer, using computer code to generate architecture.”

These powerful tools are allowing today’s architects to quickly develop complex geometries, but that leaves important questions about how to construct them. For rapid prototyping, Peters was one of the first to adopt 3D printing technology. But computation also opens doors to collaborative work.

“Computation, as well, enables architects to integrate more with engineers and building performance through things like environmental analysis and structural engineering,” adds Peters. “So we can make our architectural designs respond to performance needs.”

As the tools used to design architecture evolve, so does the entire practice of architecture. That makes this an exciting time to influence the development of emerging technology.

Peters thinks of computer programming as analogous to drawing with a pen, allowing the creation of custom digital tools by sketching with code. It opens up the palette of options that come as standard options with computer-aided design software.

“I think that’s the new generation that’s really going to have this opportunity to not only use this design technology, but shape it,” says Peters. “They’ll shape it into what they want, and therefore shape architecture and the practice of architecture into what they want.”

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Brady Peters is an assistant professor at the University of Toronto who teaches graduate courses in computational design, computer programming, visual communication, and comprehensive building design. He is a director of Smartgeometry, an international organization of professionals and academics that explores the forefront of technology and architecture. He has a background in both research and practice, including research-in-practice. He is a designer who works with software and develops his own software as part of my creative practice. While he has extensive practice experience, he is also an experienced writer and editor of texts on architecture and computation, and he serves as a reviewer for various academic conferences and journals.

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