ACADIA Reflects on 20 Years
by B.J. Novitski
Every October, a group of architecture professors, students, and practitioners from around the world meets to reflect on the directions the profession is going with computer technologies.
These thinkers gather to decipher the effect of digital media on education and practice and to explore new options through their research. This year they met at the State University of New York at Buffalo, under the leadership of Wassim Jabi, who also edited the published proceedings, Re-inventing the Discourse.
The Association for Computer-Aided Design in Architecture (ACADIA) was founded in 1981. Since then its members have been instrumental in getting computers into architecture schools. They have seen the evolution of CAD from a difficult and esoteric research topic to the widespread and increasingly respectable integration of accessible technology in architecture school curricula.
Architects educated during these two decades have seen their standard tools transformed, for better or worse, from pencils to laptops. Debates within academia have also evolved: from whether it's appropriate to teach computer programming to architecture students to how to best maintain professional standards amid the onslaught of so many new tools.
The Spectrum of Research
One theme that has changed little over the years is a pervasive frustration with the status quo. The market leaders among the commercially available CAD tools are not well suited to the schematic design that is characteristic of student projects. Hardware and software is still more expensive than paper and pencils.