Category Archives: Book commentary

entries that expand on ideas in the book

Is BIM going to take your job?

Humanoid robot Twendy-One carries a tray of breakfast during a demonstration of the robot designed to be safe to take care of elderly at the university laboratory in Tokyo Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2007. The 1.5-meter (3 feet, 8 inches)-tall and 111-kilogram (244 pounds), battery-powered robot has been developed by Prof. Shigeki Sugano, right, of Department of Mechanical Engineering of the university. (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)

This blog is primarily concerned with the transition from drawing to computational tools in architecture. My book, The Death of Drawing: Architecture in the Age of Simulation, explores this subject in depth and identifies it as part of a pervasive cultural trend towards simulation as opposed to representation as our general mode of experience. The book is chiefly concerned with the cognitive effects of this change on design thinking, but it has many other consequences for architects as well. One of these, highlighted in The Glass Cage: Automation and Us by Nicholas Carr, is the effect that certain automated systems (so-called “expert systems”) have on the functioning of their operators. Carr discusses this effect in several contexts: driverless cars, aviation, medicine, social life and, yes, architecture. He cites research that demonstrates a few worrying effects of these systems. Among these:

Technological adaptation. People and institutions tend to adapt themselves to the demands of technologies they use rather than demanding that technology be designed to help them work as they normally would. This sounds like a choice, but in practice very few individuals or groups can design software for their specific needs. Software vendors cannot afford to tailor their products to the needs of specific individuals or groups. At best, they can provide features that most of their customers want and flexibility to allow others to adapt the software to their needs. Past a certain (quickly reached) point, adapting even the most user-friendly software is beyond most users.

The generation effect. The idea here is that we remember and learn better if we must actively provide some of the information we are trying to master. For example, simply rereading information is a far less effective way of learning than closing the book and recalling the information from memory. Our active cognitive engagement in learning heightens our retention and ability to use the information creatively. Most expert systems are designed to reduce the cognitive load on users, under the theory that this will reduce the number of errors they make. The generation effect says that, in the long run, this makes us dumber.

Deskilling. Carr describes studies in several domains demonstrating that reliance on automated systems results in their operators becoming less skilled. This is hardly surprising- by offloading tasks to an automated system, people’s skills get rusty from disuse. This has been of particular concern in aviation, where pilots are now required to spend a certain amount of time in manual control of their aircraft to keep their skills sharp.

Automation complacency and automation bias. Once we have an automated system to help us do a job, we tend to assume that it’s doing its job correctly. Instead of thinking a problem through for ourselves, we tend to accept the answer provided by the system. If there is a discrepancy between the system’s answer and our own (or a colleague’s), we tend to place more faith in the system. Computers, after all, don’t make mistakes (or so we think. This could be called the Fundamental Fallacy of Automation: the notion that a computer system always makes fewer mistakes than a human being doing the same task.)

You’re probably already thinking about how these effects manifest themselves in architecture. BIM in particular is taking on more features of an expert system with every new release. After all, the original rationale for BIM, and the reason for its rapid adoption in the mid-aughts, was a that it would reduce errors in architects’ drawings. Information-rich BIM families and objects reduce the information an architect needs to recall (bye-bye generation effect). Intelligent objects further reduce our cognitive loads by “knowing” rules that govern certain objects (e.g. standard door sizes) or how certain elements interact with others. I’m sure you have your own stories about how your firm has had to adapt its work processes to the requirements of BIM. I’ve heard many horror stories about mistakes made because someone assumed that the BIM software “knew” how to do something that turned out to be wrong.

As for deskilling, I’ll let you decide if this is taking place or not. Even if it is, it may be difficult to detect in the short run. There’s also an important question of whether what’s happening is deskilling or re-skilling. The skills required by modern design and construction are not necessarily those of the traditional architect. Students graduating from architecture schools that emphasize digital technologies may not know how to draw, but they have other skills that are needed for modern digitally-driven construction. For the record, I think they still need to learn to draw and draw well for reasons I discuss in the book.

Carr makes no attempt to account for automation and its tendencies in a broader context. He begins with the observation that we are making increasingly sophisticated use of automated systems in search of greater productivity. He calls for us to re-think how we design automated systems- to support rather than replace us. That’s a sound recommendation, but it doesn’t get at the root of the issue. What we are up against here is not merely a choice about technology, but an established cultural mode that values performance– the efficient achievement of some goal- over everything else. This is what technology does. The choice of goals is another matter. This calls for ethical values to be applied not only to the goals themselves, but also to the acceptable means of achieving them. This, as I’ve argued in a  previous post, is a role only architects can play in the building industry and, indeed, our most important one.

The performative nature of BIM poses an enormous challenge to architects. If we stand idly by while the technology follows its natural course, we’ll eventually find ourselves redefined as BIM operators. We urgently need to discuss how to use BIM and other computational tools in order to maintain our ability to balance performance with other goals in our work. It’s past time we started this discussion.

The fig leaf of performance

COSMOS H2O night rendering. Performance was not why it was selected.
COSMO H2O, Andres Jaque, Office for Political Innovation. Night rendering.

I’ve noticed a trend lately of architectural projects getting prizes and other attention based- for public consumption at least- on some aspect of their performance. Looking at such projects, it’s often obvious that this function is either trivial or beside the point, given their formal interest. Why has function- performance more generally- become the dominant narrative of architectural value?

To see what I mean, consider COSMO H2O, a project by architect Andres Jaque and his firm Office for Political Innovation (see photos). This project was just announced as the winner of the prestigious Museum of Modern Art’s Young Architects Program and will be installed at MoMA PS1 in Long Island City, Queens this summer. The main virtue of the project, according to its announcements, is that it purifies water. According to The Architect’s Newspaper, submissions were required to “provide shade, seating, and water for the museum’s Warm Up summer music series—a season-long dance party—while also addressing environmental issues.” (The subordination of environmental concerns to a “season-long dance party” evident in this statement shall pass without comment for now.)

However, the project purifies a trivial amount of water- 3000 gallons every four days. For reference, the average American family uses about 300 gallons a day according to the EPA. Even allowing for our profligate and unsustainable level of water consumption, 750 gallons a day is the proverbial drop in the bucket in the context of the real problem. Jaque claims that “COSMO is intended as a prototype that can be easily reproduced around the world to deliver drinking water where it is needed most.” But given its minuscule output, COSMO is not a prototype of useful practical water purification system. Perhaps it’s scalable, but no mention is made of this crucial fact if indeed it is true.

COSMOS H2O day rendering. Performance is not why it was selected.
COSMO H2O, day rendering.

The point is not to quibble with the architect’s claims or MoMA’s selection of the project. What I find interesting is the importance assigned this token function. A quick look at the renderings (see above) shows very different, and more plausible, reasons why the project was chosen: it’s a playful, fanciful object that promises visual delight, especially at night (although to get the effect shown in the night rendering, the installation would have to take place in the Hayden Planetarium, not PS1). Of course, MoMA could not give this as the reason for its selection. This august institution must give more serious grounds for its decisions.

The MoMA committee could have tried to evaluate the form itself in artistic terms. It does so with the paintings and sculptures it exhibits and has done so with works of architecture in the past. Why not in this instance? I’d suggest there are two forces at work. One is the bewildering nature of recent developments in architectural design. Parametric design tools and computer-driven fabrication have unleashed a tidal wave of seductive forms that have, for the moment at least, overwhelmed the collective critical capacities of the masters of the artistic universe. Yet critics are rightly hesitant to judge this new “style” and institutions neglect it at the risk of appearing out of touch.

Second, we are experiencing a resurgence of a restrictive type of functionalism. Everything must now have a performative justification. This tendency is always lurking in American culture- we have always been suspicious of anything not absolutely required to achieve some practical purpose. Why it has flared recently is open to speculation. I would suggest that the increasing dominance of technology in our culture and economy is partly responsible. A piece of technology is characterized by being an efficient solution to a defined problem. “Good design” has been redefined within this framework. Why is the iPhone a good design? Because people buy it in droves. In a previous post, I proposed that architecture see itself as an ethics of technology. Clearly, we must have some way of judging the purposes and means of technology , not only its effectiveness in achieving its goals.

The core of MoMA’s program for the competition (enlivening a “season-long dance party”) shows that its ultimate goal is to attract visitors to PS1 and generate excitement about contemporary art. This is all to the good. However, their approach to COSMO implies that as an institution they are unwilling or unable to address its qualities as an object or environment. They happily exploit its visual charms behind a fig leaf of performance. The work is no less meaningful for that, but the museum has declared its disinterest, or worse, in addressing it as a work of art.

The practicality of the impossible

Market Hall, MVRDV (2014). Social housing combined with a public market.

The increasing emphasis on performance criteria as the measure of design value stunts architecture in many ways. One of the more insidious is the reification of current conditions of building production, that is assuming that

  1. current economic and political constraints on the construction, financing, use and planning of the built environment will always prevail; and
  2. architecture must be “realistic,” meaning that it must operate within them.

Put another way, architecture’s job is to figure out how to contort (I would not say “meet”) the needs of society so as to be amenable to these reified constraints.

Yes, people’s need for buildings is immediate and pressing and cannot wait for a possible future in which the conditions of building construction may be different. Further, it is possible to create buildings under current conditions with more or less concern for ordinary people, more or less imagination, more or less awareness of the many scales and modes by which buildings shape our environment. That is to say, it is possible to design well or badly, to do it out of concern for people’s well-being or for personal gain.

Many architects amplify the prevailing market into a rationale for following the path of least resistance in their practices. If I had a nickel for every time someone has “reminded” me that architects need to make a living- well,I’d have a lot of nickels. I will stipulate that architects need to make a living. But this does not justify adopting the market as rationale for ceasing to think about how we live in larger terms. Our true purpose is to engage in this kind of questioning. We often underestimate the scope our projects offer for doing this.

(An aside- our collective preoccupation with buildings as formal objects, often justified as “exploring new possibilities of inhabitable space,” is not the kind of questioning I’m talking about. Being honest with ourselves, we should recognize that much of the work done under this guise is at best equating architecture with sculpture. At worst, it is mindless idolatry of newness for its own sake.)

Winy Maas of MVRDV has posted a video of a presentation he made to urban planners in Glasgow that is inspiring in this regard. You could call it “the architecture of the impossible”. The issues his ideas address are very real: global warming, with its consequences for energy and water consumption, urbanization and population growth, mass population migrations, and the cost of infrastructure among others. What is remarkable is not only the imagination of his solutions, but the fact that, under present conditions, they are impossible. Not physically impossible, but politically impossible. In many cases this is because the level of political organization needed to carry out a project does not exist (yet). It makes sense for water-rich SwWiny Maas map of Switzerlanditzerland to build a network of reservoirs to supply water to drier parts of Europe (see left), if only the political infrastructure existed to plan and build the accompanying distribution system. Why not cover south-facing mountainsides with photovoltaic panels? Well, again you would need a continent-wide distribution network to make the project economically feasible, not to mention a financial structure to pay for the project. Maas’s projects are impossible, but they argue for themselves as solutions to real problems and force us to ask, “Why are these things impossible? What is holding society back from realizing them?” Once there, the projects become arguments for changing the political and economic structures that make them impossible so that they become possible. In other words, the projects themselves become forces for change.

This model for making architecture a force for social change involves two steps. First, architects must address problems that affect people’s lives (and no, “new possibilities of inhabitable space” is not such a problem). These problems must be sufficiently pressing to get people to think seriously about solutions they have never considered before, that may at first seem outlandish. Second, architects have to decide which of the conditions that circumscribe their work are actually not carved in stone, but could be changed if the necessary political will existed. Architecture thus works towards social change by demonstrating its benefits.

The scale of Maas’s projects in the video are vast- far beyond the scope of most architects’ practices (imagine having Switzerland as a commission!). But the model still works. On every project, we need to ask ourselves if we have accepted some constraint as immutable, when in fact it could be eased or removed by altering some human institution. This may not be possible immediately, but once we have demonstrated with a project that making such a change would be beneficial, we can begin to persuade people to make the change.

What we are talking about here is challenging current performance criteria. The all-too-common mindset, abetted by BIM and related developments, is to accept and quantify performance criteria as given, and to maximize a design with respect to those criteria. As I have argued in The Death of Drawing and on this blog, this mindset is fatal to architecture as a cultural and social force. Architects must challenge performativity in any way they can. One way to do this, suggested by Maas’s projects, is to turn performativity against itself by asking whether better answers can be found by suspending accepted performance standards.


Data-driven to distraction

plan usageThe notion of “data-driven” design gets a lot of press these days, as if what contemporary architects need is more quantitative knowledge about how people use buildings and spaces. This idea rests on misunderstandings of architecture so profound as to beggar belief. But since the idea is so common these days, it appears worthwhile to spell out exactly why it is not only wrong but harmful.

Our culture is obsessed with quantification. Data ultimately consists of numbers. As a culture, we love numbers. They are so clear, such a relief from the unremitting confusion of everyday life. Yet we all know that numbers can lie. More precisely, it is not the numbers themselves that lie, but the way they are produced and used. In spite of this, we can’t resist the urge to believe numbers. If I take something ambiguous or complex, such as people’s reactions to a movie, and ask them to rate it on a scale of five stars, suddenly the value of a (potential) work of art is reduced to a number on a five point scale. We know this is a totally bogus procedure, yet everyone pays attention to these ratings. There is a companion phenomenon that makes the process even sillier- the dilution of the ratings. Rarely do you see a movie that gets one star or five. Most get three or four. This is partly the result of our collective distaste for extreme judgments, but also, I think, from an unspoken recognition that this spurious scale is not a sufficient basis for making real judgments.

The practice of quantifying the unquantifiable is sometimes justified by the argument that the system used to quantify X may be flawed, but it’s the best we can do. This is saying that the goal of quantifying X is so important that we’re better off doing it badly than not doing it at all. The possibility that X fundamentally eludes quantification and that trying to quantify it distorts it beyond recognition is not considered.

This fallacy is especially deadly in any discussion of a cultural form such as architecture. Quantifiable measures do not even come close to describing the qualities and values of how people perceive and use space. Architecture is fundamentally ambiguous. I hope I’m not ruining anybody’s day by saying this. I’m almost embarrassed to find myself having to say it so plainly, but consider this article by David Friedlander.

Friedlander summarizes studies of how people use their homes that show that there are some spaces- formal dining rooms, outdoor patios- that are rarely used. Scandal! Inefficiency! Why do our homes include spaces we don’t use often? Well, Mr. Friedlander, let me explain. Spaces have symbolic as well as practical functions. I may not use my dining room very often, but the fact that I have one makes it possible to contemplate and engage in a particular form of socialization. This reflects my belief (which is part of my culture) in the importance of sharing meals in a formal setting for creating and maintaining important relationships with people. Devoting a space to it in my home expresses this belief.

Of course, endowing formal dining with this importance is a value not universally shared, even within my own culture. That is why many houses built in in the U.S. in the last few decades do not have dining rooms. This is as it should be. It is wrong, however, to conclude from such a study that a dining room is a waste of space.

In fairness, Mr. Friedlander goes on to make many excellent points about unsustainable patterns in the amount of land and other resources our culture consumes due to our notions of housing. He puts the cart before the horse, however, in starting from the supposed waste in our living arrangements. The unsustainable nature of how we live is the proper starting point. There we will find the true reasons for changing how we build our homes.

Architecture as an Ethics of Technology

Among the professionals involved in the building industry, architects have a unique ability- even a duty- to apply a broad range of criteria in making design decisions. This is the essence of the traditional role of architects in building- not only to know about how things are built, but also to question assumptions and conventions of building in light of their larger effects on human life. The philosopher Karsten Harries has called this broad questioning of goals and means of building the ethical function of architecture, and it is precisely what distinguishes architecture from other building design disciplines.

The proliferation of building and design technologies has made technology an area of particular importance for this aspect of architecture. Technology is vital to our society, culture and economy. Unfortunately, it has no built-in guide as to what problems to take on and limited criteria to apply in finding solutions. It’s like a precocious child- capable of amazing things but lacking the basic sense not to play in traffic. Like a child, it needs to be allowed to explore while being guided by wisdom and experience. The problems we ask technology to solve, both the goals and the means used to achieve them, need to be chosen according to a broad range of criteria. In the domain of building and design technology, only architects have the training and the professional culture that allow them to do this.

New technologies are created in response to a perceived market. A key criterion is their potential profitability. The “needs” they meet are fungible if not created out of whole cloth. Clever marketing can create desires and transform them into felt needs. There’s an enormous market for trucks and SUV’s that burn much more fuel than most cars and release correspondingly larger amounts of pollutants. These vehicles can have a legitimate purpose, but they don’t owe their gigantic sales volume to the need of a typical family to haul bales of hay or climb glaciers. The first question about any technology should always be about its purpose. Economy is always a consideration, but an ethics of technology requires a broader critical questioning of the end to which it is created.

Apart from effectively fulfilling a purpose, the only criterion technology innately recognizes is performance: functional (accomplishing the assigned purpose as efficiently as possible), and economic (generating profits for its creators). The net result is that technology naturally seeks to achieve maximum effect for minimal cost. Using the market alone to assess performance neglects many impacts of technological methods that we might want to challenge on ethical grounds, such as environmental degradation and labor exploitation. Ethical judgments in fact do sometimes come into play. Opposition to the destruction of embryos has impeded genetic research. Revelations about the scope of the NSA’s data gathering have at least placed limits on the use of certain technologies. These examples involve public opinion, but it is also possible for individuals and small groups to assert other criteria in selecting technologies and influencing their development.

The clearest example of this in the building industry is sustainable design. Architects played a major role in establishing sustainability as an accepted design criterion. Given its present widespread acceptance, it’s easy to forget how recently and rapidly sustainability achieved this status. Sustainable design can often be defended on the basis of lifecycle cost, but at bottom it is an ethical value. As an ethical principle, sustainability is readily justified on utilitarian grounds (“the greatest good for the greatest number”). Since it mitigates such things as greenhouse gas emissions, deforestation and water pollution that harm every person on the planet, it clearly works to increase our collective well-being. Sustainability also has the virtue of being quantifiable (in some respects). One can calculate kilowatt hours saved, volume of emitted CO2 avoided and so on. Once the basic principle is accepted, this provides a basis for agreement among diverse individuals about what is more or less sustainable. However, not many ethical principles can be as clearly justified or applied.

Modern construction is a highly technical enterprise. With the coming of BIM and other computational tools, building design has also become technology-intensive. In both arenas architects are constantly confronted with decisions about technologies, what to use and how to use it. Amid the rush towards greater efficiency that our world demands and technology promotes, it is difficult but essential for architects to maintain a critical stance towards building and design technologies. Indeed, they are the only building professionals with a mandate to do this in keeping with the ethical function that is the hallmark of their discipline.

Architects face some serious difficulties in questioning technology. One is the paradox of challenging technology on its own turf. As technology becomes more pervasive in building and design, its imperatives of efficiency and enhanced performance become more deeply embedded in the ethos of the building industry. Architects are under great pressure to adopt these values. Who can object to buildings that are cheaper and faster to build while performing the same functions as well or better? Sometimes it’s possible to come up with an idea that both asserts non-technological values and succeeds on technology’s own terms. In rare cases, an architect may assert other values as a condition of his or her work. In general, however, the value of more efficient, better-performing buildings is so universally accepted that it can’t be directly opposed. Asserting other values must involve redefining performance– changing the criteria a technology must satisfy. As the example of sustainable design shows, these new criteria can be ethical, although it helps if they can be couched in performative terms. It also helps if the market and/or regulation adopt these criteria. These change the economics of design decisions, by reducing their cost or making it unavoidable.

The newly technological nature of design media creates another order of difficulty for architects. These complex pieces of software contain both capabilities and limitations that influence how architects approach design problems, often without their being aware of it. They profoundly change the relationship between the architect and his/her work, in terms of both design and building. They require new skills and render some traditional ones obsolete. They create changes in how architects work in design teams that transform their role in the design process. Most importantly, the products of these media have a powerful innate tendency to be understood as simulations by designers- virtual equivalents of the building. This is radically different than the abstraction of drawings, focusing designers’ attention on the (simulated) experience of the spaces and construction, at the expense of conceptual relationships. The categorical differences between a digital model and the eventual reality of the building are blurred by the seductive appeal of simulation.

These problems are challenging but not insurmountable. Their solution requires architects to understand how apparently useful and innocent technologies can impose values on a project. This is the first step. The next is to relearn to formulate and explore design ideas using a wide range of criteria, performative and otherwise, taking control of their tools rather than simply following their tendencies. There is a place for performative criteria in developing a design, but only taking the time to explore it fully according to a larger set of values.

Among building professionals, architects traditionally have a unique background that prepares and motivates them to apply diverse criteria to the uses of technology. This professional mandate is being undermined by pressure to adopt the same performative values as the rest of the industry. To maintain their cultural and social relevance, architects must be critically aware of technology and the values it entails. Architects must judge, select and apply technology according to the broadest possible range of criteria to obtain its benefits without falling for its blandishments and the vacuous utopia it promises.

The Death of Drawing- Thoughts on its publication

CoverAfter what seems like an eternity, The Death of Drawing: Architecture in the Age of Simulation has been published. It will shortly available for purchase on Amazon (July 27) and through Routledge (July 25) as well as in many bookstores.  Now that the book is public, it takes on a life of its own. This prospect is both exciting and anxiety-provoking. It’s not that I’m worried about people disagreeing with me. I expect and welcome that. The question that keeps me awake at night is whether they will understand what I tried to say.

The book’s subject is fraught. Discussions of the effects of building information modeling and computational design on architecture are often polarizing. Older architects tend to view these technologies as either new ways of doing the same work or as unwarranted intrusions into a process they understood. Younger ones tend to be advocates of the new technologies without considering their effects on the work. Add to this the perennial tendency of every new generation of architects to consider themselves young lions and every older generation to resist change, and you have a perfect storm of misunderstandings. I hope the book will help both groups gain insight into what is going on, but I realize that’s a steep hill to climb.

I believe that architecture is undergoing profound change that architects need to understand lest we become its passive victims. Neither older nor younger architects can easily understand the changes taking place. Older ones have trouble grasping the new technologies while younger ones have little understanding of what is being replaced by them.

One of my greatest fears is that The Death of Drawing will be understood as a plea for a return to drawing. Nothing could be further from my intention. In the book I explain that the rise of BIM and computational design is grounded in modern building economics and certain pervasive cultural developments. These technologies are not going away- they can help solve real problems for building owners and users. The book’s central thesis is that these technologies promote certain tendencies that run counter to architecture’s ability to comprehend and assert essential but unquantifiable values. I try to show how drawing enabled us to do this. What I’m advocating is not a return to drawing, but a search for ways to use the new technologies to continue to assert such values. I believe that a thorough understanding of the historical role of drawing will help us do that.

Another of the book’s central arguments concerns the the effects of the materiality of drawing on how we understand architecture. Drawings are made things, physical artifacts that are as much about the materials that compose them as they are about the ideas they represent. The intimate experience of materials provided by drawing carries over into building. Despite the obvious differences between drawing and building materials, the experience of making, of the productive encounter between an idea and the physical qualities of the media used to express it, is common to building and design through drawing. Going forward, this is a challenge for interface design which is already being studied by many people.

It may very well turn out that the best way to do all this is to preserve a place for drawing in our new, technology-enabled design processes. This is what I do in my own practice and there are many other architects who do this as well. But incorporating drawing in any fashion requires an architect to have experienced design through drawing. When I see digital techniques being used by architecture students with little or no experience of drawing, I lose hope that this will be possible.

Anyway, buy the book, read it and see what you make of it. Please post your thoughts on this blog. I look forward to a lively discussion.

David Ross Scheer



Karl Friedrich Schinkel, The Origin of Draftsmanship (1830)

Image courtesy Von der Heydt-Museum Wuppertal

Welcome to the Death of Drawing blog and discussion forum. The Death of Drawing: Architecture in the Age of Simulation is a forthcoming book that will be published by Routledge Taylor & Francis  Group in June 2014. I’m the author, David Ross Scheer. The book deals with the replacement of drawing by two digital technologies: building information modeling (BIM) and computational design. Its thesis is that the pervasive adoption of these technologies is creating a sea change in architectural design thinking, comparable in scope to the creation of the modern practice of architecture during the Italian Renaissance. The codification of architectural drawing was required for the advent of modern practice and is at the root of how architects think, design and build. With its replacement by these digital technologies, the entire edifice of architecture as we know it is collapsing. New ideational and practical frameworks are arising to take its place.

About the title. People, including architects, continue to draw. For many architects, especially those over forty, drawing is still essential to their design processes. It is not the personal exercise of drawing that is dying, but its fundamental role in architectural practice. Drawing is fast disappearing as the chief medium for developing design ideas and transmitting information to other people involved in a project, including contractors. This trend is most pronounced in larger projects, but it is filtering down into ever-smaller ones. There are irresistible economic and technical forces at work that will eventually cause all but the smallest projects to use BIM and CD.

Simulation refers to a mode of experience. In this mode, experience is taken at face value. In particular, experience does not represent anything else. Digital tools like BIM and computational design give rise to simulation. The experiences they generate are produced by means that are completely different than those that underlie real-world experience. Asking about the origins of simulation leads to the means used to produce the simulation, Drawing, on the other hand, clearly represents experience. There is no mistaking a drawing for a building. A drawing is a sign of an ulterior reality and a means of learning about this reality. Representations are always partial reflections of reality and new ones can always be created to reveal different aspects of it.

The replacement of drawing by digital tools is not just a change of media; it entails a radical change in how we experience the world and architecture in particular. The book explores various ways this affects the design, construction and reception of works of architecture. In advance of its appearance, I will post brief introductions to some of the its topics here and invite everyone interested to contribute to the discussion. The book contains 135 illustrations including many drawings by well-known architects. These will also be featured in these posts. Welcome, all.