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The Effects Of Computer Automation On The Design Development Process In Architecture

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2006 Annual Conference & Exposition


Chicago, Illinois

Publication Date

June 18, 2006

Start Date

June 18, 2006

End Date

June 21, 2006



Conference Session

Teaching Innovation in Arch Engineering II

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Page Count


Page Numbers

11.1282.1 - 11.1282.12



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Paper Authors


Joseph Betz SUNY-College of Technology

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JOSEPH A. BETZ is an Associate Professor in the Department of Architecture & Construction Management at the State University of New York at Farmingdale. He received his undergraduate and professional degrees in architecture from the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and his post-professional degree in architecture from Columbia University. He is a recipient of the SUNY Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Teaching.

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

The Effects of Computer Automation on the Design Development Process in Architecture

Abstract Computer automation and information technology has changed the design development process in architecture. Students no longer use a transparent, linear design process facilitated through the craft of hand drawing. Instead, the design process has become increasingly fragmented and hidden through the use of this new technology. The dilemma we face as educators is: one, how to teach and assess this new process in the context of existing ideas of how students experience and acquire design knowledge, and two, how to prepare students who will work in a profession that is increasing embracing the use of this new technological process for economic reasons. This paper outlines characteristics of this new design process and examines the effects in a Construction Design course. Student survey data is presented showing student behavior along with other examples to support the theory. Recommendations for new assessment are offered. This topic should have broad appeal for anyone teaching a design development course that seeks to prepare students for the profession.

Introduction Throughout history, handcrafted processes have been transformed by technology into new and different processes. Technological changes affect the very nature of an activity, our perception and understanding of it. As processes are transformed, some skills become obsolete, other aspects of the process become hidden, particular activities become more focused, new skills developed and knowledge acquired. It should then come as no surprise that technology, as later defined, is now transforming the design development process in architecture.1

The design development process in architecture was originally a handcrafted process that involved a pencil, tracing paper, and drafting equipment. It started with exploratory layout sketches followed by a linear series of overlays, one on top of the other, with tracing paper. The entire process produced a refined design solution for assembling and constructing building components. Each component and assembly in the design process was hand drawn by the designer. Through this act, a level of knowledge and ownership of the process was obtained. The process began to change with the introduction of CAD (Computer Aided Design) drawing. The perception of scale changed and the pencil was substituted with a mouse in this paperless drafting platform. Recent advances in CAD automation software2 coupled with computer information technology systems have combined to further transform the design development process in architecture from the original handcrafted process.

The result of this new design process is one that has become increasingly fragmented and hidden through the use of this new technology. Design automation reduces the designer to observer by hiding the process rather than having one see and experience it. The coping and pasting of components into the design solution further removes the designer from coming to know, on some level, parts of their solution. Both of these technological features combined challenge and question our basic understanding of ownership of the design process itself. The dilemmas we face as educators are many. What is the new design process? What knowledge is and is not

Betz, J. (2006, June), The Effects Of Computer Automation On The Design Development Process In Architecture Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. 10.18260/1-2--81

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