Knowledge Surrogates: On the Role of Digital Tools in Architectural Knowledge

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The architectural discipline has an unfortunate tradition of being slow to absorb and deploy new technologies within its design process. The reasons for this reluctance are complex and may be merely a reflection of more overarching concerns about the limit and definition of architectural knowledge, though in many ways the representation of this knowledge and the tools for its production have always been at architecture's core. The earliest ideas of the architect are frequently associated with that of the master builder to whom the specifics of technology and design were intrinsically a part of act of building. Though our discipline long ago departed from this type of holistic knowledge, we have tried to maintained a command of the act of building, albeit disseminated through the colloquial drawings and blueprints to which much of our popular identities been associated. The largely overblown promises of CAD to streamline the design and documentation processes have remained unfulfilled, though their recent digital relative of Building Information Modeling (BIM) offers similar claims with the radical replacement of digital drawing with digital modeling as the means of retaining the architect as the center of design execution and integrated knowledge. Ironically, this notion of integrated intelligence via the virtual realm offers the beguiling rewards of complete design knowledge synergy and seamless collaboration, though not through means of increased individual knowledge or collaborative discussion, but rather through the optimized assembly libraries and digitized conventions. This is our point of greatest curiosity and concern and the point to which this paper will expand, for while the more antiquated methods relied on specific knowledge that only the seasoned architect could provide, these BIM systems offer predetermined techniques and optimized conveniences in order to displace the traditional domains of architectural knowledge, favoring the digital surrogates in place of the former act of architectural thinking.

Keywords: Architecture, Technology, Digital, Design, Practice
Stream: Knowledge and Technology
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: A paper has not yet been submitted.

Mark McGlothlin

Assistant Professor, School of Architecture, University of Florida
Gainesville, FL, USA

Mark McGlothlin is an Assistant Professor at the University of Florida School of Architecture. He teaches in all levels of Architectural Design, Materials and Methods of Construction, and Structural Aesthetics. He received his Master of Architecture from the Graduate School of Design at Harvard University in 2001. He also holds a Bachelor of Architecture and a Bachelor of Science in Architectural Engineering, both from Kansas State University.

Prof. John Maze

Assistant Professor, School of Architecture, University of Florida
Gainesville, FL, USA

John Maze is an Assistant Professor at the University of Florida School of Architecture. He teaches design studio and is head of the Digital Media curriculum. He received is Master of Architecture from Arizona State University with highest distinction in 1996. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Architecture from the University of Virginia.

Ref: T08P0330