Advancing Computational Building Design 2018 Retrospective – Notes from the Chair

Randy Deutsch, AIAassociate director for graduate studies at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign’s School of Architecture also shares his thoughts on the conference and the future of the computational building design community.

One of my first impressions of this conference is that besides a few notables, the participants and speakers were not the usual faces one might see at other industry-related events. This is important, as this still nascent group continues to define itself, asking questions about where this all is heading, and whether this group indeed forms a community of practice. This event had it all, from uplifting talks to out-there talks that no one was expecting to presentations that completely delivered on a promise of details and cases. I learned a lot from these presentations, but also from the breakout sessions – especially the conversations, which, for me in two cases, lasted well into the night. I really couldn’t ask for more from a conference. This was the real deal, entirely worth the time, investment, and my second flight delay out of La Guardia in a month due to weather. I’d go again in a heartbeat.

What I experienced at Advancing Computational Building Design 2018 constitutes a community of design technology specialists, who not only are working toward the mastery of these tools and work processes for building design – and the name of the event implies – but in some cases, more broadly, including computational urbanism among other areas of practice. This was quite interesting to learn, and to witness firsthand. I was not able to make last year’s inaugural event in San Francisco, but from what I have heard from others in the relatively short span of a year, this group has developed its capabilities, producing interesting, innovative, new work that is at once compelling and performative, and – when word gets out to the rest of the industry – influential. There was much to learn during our time together, and I don’t think I have ever been more curious to see what this group, their colleagues, and its followers continue to develop in the year ahead. I am absolutely attending next year’s event – no matter where it is held – and look forward to seeing computational designers and design technologists continue to make a name and a place for themselves, in their teams, firms, and the profession and industry.

Tackling Implementation Head-On
With the growing complexity of this field of practice, I feel challenged and inspired to begin thinking about and capturing the ever-changing design vocabulary within computational domains of knowledge. Computation is no longer a question of should, or whether it is possible. Understanding the nuances of this vocabulary will be key to success as we lead our clients into these pioneering adventures in sustainable design. And finding a common language is critical for implementation to take hold.

This conference continues to inspire change for those who attend. What we do with that inspiration – which I’m taking as a professional challenge – will determine the speed of change within our industry, and how quickly we embrace computational design in an ever-changing world.

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