How Generative Design Works


Using computers for generative design not only creates multiple design options faster than humans alone could do, it helps architects and engineers solve their most complex design problems faster than they ever could manually.

While Hollywood has made many of us wary of a world where computers with artificial intelligence make independent decisions, the reality of today’s computer-assisted design processes is that a machine can enable designers to come up with plenty of options for any building or other project they design.

Instead of the old acronym, GIGO (garbage in, garbage out), in generative design, it’s AIDO (algorithm in, designs out). Computers don’t create designs; they compute designs. The creative genius of a person is still needed to set the criteria (algorithm) that the computer uses to generate design options. And then a person is needed to judge which option – whether there are two or 2,000 – best fits the customer’s criteria. If the criteria need to be adjusted, the designer modifies the algorithm and runs the calculation process again as many times as necessary to get the optimum design.

  1. An idea is pitched by the design team.
  2. An algorithm is coded.
  3. The source code calculates.
  4. A design is generated.
  5. The designer judges the design.
  6. The designer modifies the algorithm or the code.
  7. A new algorithm is coded or a new code calculates, and the process repeats.

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