Unlock untapped ideas in architecture with generative AI.

  • Architects can use generative AI as a collaborator to synthesize data, aesthetics, and ideas in totally new and unexplored ways.
  • Speed and efficiency are additional benefits to using generative AI as part of the architectural design process.
  • To start exploring the potential of generative AI in architecture, get to know how AI generators work, experiment with your own prompts, and keep an eye out for new and unexpected ideas.

Powering the architectural design process.

Adobe Firefly image of a modern lounge

4 benefits of generative AI for architects.

As with generative AI across all professions and use cases, architects are still exploring the many ways this new technology can add to their field. The following represents just a handful of the benefits of generative AI to working architects and architecture students.

Adobe Firefly image of bridge

1 An always-on collaborative partner.

“The thing that excites me the most about integrating generative AI into architectural practice is that the technology is becoming a collaborative partner in the design process,” says Pellicano.

Especially during the early phases of the process when architects are concepting, iterating, and developing their vision, generative AI can serve as a sounding board. For example, architects could query a generative AI model about recent or historical projects to get a sense of where their idea fits within the architectural landscape. Or, they could stress-test initial ideas using text-to-image capabilities.

For example, an architect could input a number of different text prompts into an AI image generator like Adobe Firefly to see what an unconventional concept might look like before sitting down to design.

2 Broader perspectives and out-of-the-box thinking.

One of the most exciting aspects of generative AI is that the technology doesn’t “think” the same ways humans do. Even the most creative people have preconceptions about what’s possible, and architects are no different. As Pellicano says, generative AI is “capable of making novel connections and identifying unanticipated relationships, patterns, and potentials that were previously withdrawn from our independent human perception.”

Unexpected or impossible-to-achieve results can open up new pathways for creativity that architects might not have explored otherwise.

3 Make better use of precious time.

Pellicano cautions students against using generative AI technology to simply get their assignments done more quickly — it’s critical that architects-in-the-making put in the time to expand their awareness and challenge presumptions. Instead of thinking about generative AI as a time-saving tool, think about it as something that can help architects spend their time better by minimizing rote manual tasks.

4 Less waste, greater profitability.

One of the most challenging parts of the architecture process is accounting for myriad factors from the very start of projects. If a curveball comes after the initial design phase is over — say there’s a misunderstanding with the budget, and now some of the building materials are no longer in scope — it can throw a project off the rails.

Because generative AI is trained on huge volumes of data that can encompass site constraints, budget, construction materials, code requirements, and beyond, it can help architects and their teams account for potential problems ahead of time and get everyone back on track (and budget) faster. Plus, having access to this type of rich data can allow architects to spot inefficiencies and opportunities they might not have otherwise, which can help architects get the most out of the space and make the best use of the materials — a huge plus for sustainability.

It’s important to remember that, while generative AI gives architects “superpowers,” it’s no replacement for critical thought and human empathy. The tremendous datasets that generative AI applications are trained on still can’t account for everything — especially the cultural, personal, and community impact of built environments.

Remember: generative AI is a collaborator, not a replacement for good thinking and human creativity.

The architecture design process and generative AI.

architecture sketch to rendering

Schematic design


AI generators can help students and working architects explore a wide array of options fast before they settle on one design direction. They can start with an idea and text-to-image generation, or use capabilities like Generative Fill and Generative Expand in Photoshop to build upon quick sketches or photographs to get a feel for how the concept might look in practice.

Site strategy and imaging

In one of her architecture design studios at Syracuse University, Pellicano uses generative AI to help students find new ways to interpret, visualize, and understand the physical site they’re working with. Her students use a “neural style transfer” process and aerial site photographs to question, evaluate, and plan for the site. During this exercise, students start with aerial images of the site and then “transfer” alternative site images (for example, historical cartography, sensory or weather maps, legal tax maps, and so forth) onto the original aerial photo.

“This allows students to imagine alternatives outside of their preconceived notions of what the site should look like, how it is organized, or how it relates to its context in potentially novel and productive ways,” says Pellicano.

Video generation

Starting with the base of a 3D render or a work-in-progress animation, generative AI can help architects quickly create vivid, illustrative videos that give viewers an immersive experience of the design. Video is an important tool for helping architects choreograph the flow of space and how people should move through it.

Adobe Firefly image of the interior of a museum
using Adobe Firefly to extend background courtyard

Design development

Image editing.

Most architects will use 2D and 3D computer-aided design software to create a detailed vision of the structure they’re designing. With generative AI, they can quickly add context and style to images, such as landscape design, building materials, textures, and colors, and additional elements like furniture, hardware, and other interior design elements. Plus, with capabilities like outpainting — known in Photoshop as Generative Expand — architects can enlarge images or easily change the aspect ratio while maintaining the look and feel.

2D and 3D rendering.

Turning a flat, 2D design into a 3D model can take a lot of time. With new technology, however, generative AI can make the task a lot faster and simpler. There’s still value in having a working knowledge of 3D modeling as an architect, of course, but near-instant 3D rendering can help expedite last-minute changes in a pinch.

architecture line drawing of a library

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