Artificial Intelligence: Urbanism, Ethics and Design I. Design Creativity Through Artificial Intelligence


Artificial Intelligence: Urbanism, Ethics and Design I Design Creativity Through Artificial Intelligence

June 23, 2021
12:00 PM – 2:00 PM

While architecture as a cultural project aims to displace the determination of cultural conventions, technological determinism through disruption can lead to the homogenization of media, and a series of questions about computation in design. Where does architectural creativity resides through applications of AI in today’s design environments?

For an architecture of information, automating Artificial Intelligence for design opens architecture limited to the design of buildings to the design of systems which generate buildings, activating a meta-architecture. This architecture of architectures is being paralleled to algorithms that optimize algorithms or meta-algorithms. Following a series of presentations by invited speakers, a panel discussion aims to address new disciplinary paradigms and possibilities for architecture generated through the automation of computational design.


Maria R. Perbellini, Dean, NYIT School of Architecture and Design

Introductions & Moderation

  • Pablo Lorenzo-Eiroa, Director, M.S. in Architecture, Computational Technologies, NYIT School of Architecture and Design
  • Tom Verebes, Professor, NYIT School of Architecture and Design


Alicia Imperiale

Alicia Imperiale, Ph.D.

Critic, Yale University School of Architecture


Alicia Imperiale is Visiting Associate Professor of History and Theory at Pratt Institute and a Critic at the Yale University School of Architecture. She was a Cornell University, Society for the Humanities Fellow in 2016 and has taught at Università deli Studi Roma Tre, Studi Umanistici, Columbia University, Temple University and Parsons School of Design.

Her scholarly work focuses on the impact of technology on art, architecture, representation, and fabrication in postwar Italian art and architecture and contemporary architecture. She is author of New Flatness: Surface Tension in Digital Architecture, “Seminal Space: Getting under the Digital Skin,” in Re:Skin, “Stupid Little Automata” in Architecture & Culture, “An Ineluctable Geometric Character: Luigi Moretti and a prehistory of parametric architecture” in Log: Observations on Architecture and the Contemporary City. Her book projects underway include Alternate Organics: the aesthetics of experimentation in art, technology & architecture in postwar Italy and Machine Consequences: Origins of Output

Lecture: AI as a Liberatory Practice

In her recent publication Race after Technology: Abolitionist Tools for the New Jim Code, Ruha Benjamin looks at the relationship between machine bias and systemic racism and continues the discussion in an edited collection in Captivating Technology: Race, Carceral technoscience, and liberatory imagination in everyday life in which she examines the interplay of surveillance and innovation and containment. Facial recognition artificial intelligence engines are used globally ostensibly to surveil for terrorist threats, human trafficking, street safety and the like, but are also the engine for racial profiling and discrimination such as in the alleged use in China of profilings Uyghur Muslims on the basis of racial types.

These technologies are also used by artists and architects by understanding the political and social valence of the ludic. Play, as Roger Caillois describes in his Man, Play, Games, sets up situations that push against the norms of social play and opens new avenues of social participation and liberation. My brief talk will locate a number of artistic practices that use AI technologies and whose work engages the topics brought up by the range of thinkers outlined here. While I do not discuss how AI contributes directly to the making of architecture, architecture and the city become the surfaces on which cameras are mounted and the spatial configuration of the city is the space in which we all move. How can architecture perhaps provide a liberatory space that is safe from surveillance?

Jose Pinto Duarte

José Pinto Duarte

Director, Stuckeman Center for Design Computing, Penn State


José P. Duarte (Lic Arch UT Lisbon 1987, SMArchS 1993 and PhD MIT 2001) is the Stuckeman Chair in Design Innovation and Director of the Stuckeman Center for Design Computing at Penn State, where he is Professor of Architecture and Landscape Architecture, and Affiliate Professor of Architectural Engineering and Engineering Design. Prior to joining Penn State, Duarte was Dean of the Lisbon School of Architecture and president of eCAADe, the European association for Computer Aided Architectural Design. He was co-founder of the Penn State Additive Construction Laboratory (AddCon Lab) and his research interests are in the use of computation to support context-sensitive design at different scales. Recently, he co-edited (with Branko Kolarevic) the book "Mass Customization and Design Democracy" (Routledge, NY, 2019) and his team was awarded 2nd place in the finals of the "NASA 3D Printed Mars Habitat Challenge."

Lecture: Using AI to Support Context-Sensitive Design

While AI tends to be equated with machine learning today, it includes several other techniques, such as shape recognition, rules-based systems, and optimization, to name just a few. These various techniques are complementary and can be articulated to form a comprehensive approach to architectural and urban design. The objective is to support context-sensitive design at different scales, understood as an optimized response to unique design contexts, leading to maximized building performance and minimized resource consumption. An important application of such an approach is the provision of mass customized housing and urban environments in a world scenario of rapid urbanization and population growth.

Sandra Manninger

Sandra Manninger

AR2Lab, University of Michigan


Dr. Sandra Manninger is an architect, researcher, and educator. Born and educated in Austria, she co-founded SPAN Architecture together with Matias del Campo in 2003. SPAN Architecture’s research highlights how to go beyond beautiful data to discover something that could be defined voluptuous data. This coagulation of numbers, algorithms, procedures, and programs uses the forces of thriving nature and, passing through the calculation of multi-core processors, knits them with human desire. Sandra Manninger has taught internationally and her award-winning projects have been published and exhibited, for example, at La Biennale di Venezia 14/16/18/21, the MAK, the Autodesk Pier 1 and have been included in the permanent collections of the FRAC Centre-Val de Loire, The Design Museum/Die Neue Sammlung in Munich, or the Albertina in Vienna.

Lecture: Deep Design

The rise of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) in recent years has posed a challenge to the architecture community. How will this novel technology shape the way we conceptualize, design, fabricate, construct, and maintain our environment? This talk interrogates the rise of ML through the lenses of practice and education.

Roberto Bottazzi

Roberto Bottazzi

Programme Director, Master of Urban Design (B-Pro), Bartlett, UCL


Roberto Bottazzi is an architect, researcher, and educator based in London. He studied in Italy and Canada before moving to London. He is Director of the MArch Urban Design at the Bartlett, UCL and RC14 design tutor. He is the author of Digital Architecture beyond Computers: Fragments of a Cultural History of Computational Design (Bloomsbury, 2018) and editor of Walking Cities: London (Camberwell Press, 2017, Routledge 2020). Roberto’s research analyses the impact of digital technologies on architecture and urbanism and presented and exhibited internationally.

Lecture: Urbanism Beyond Cognition

Despite their rapid and pervasive penetration in all aspects of society, the introduction of Machine Learning algorithms in spatial design has been met with relatively little theoretical discussion. Rather than stressing the functional advantages that automated algorithms can bring to design, the challenge is to foreground the theoretical issues related to the introduction of ML methods in spatial design and contextualise them within the repertoire of disciplinary techniques developed by architects.

The presentation will discuss some of these point through the work developed by Research Cluster 14 (B-Pro Master of Urban Design at The Bartlett). RC14 works with data and Machine Learning algorithms to automate design, connect disparate scales from the material to the planetary (while maintaining precision and granularity), give agency to non-human actors, and speculate how the public sphere of cities will be designed and experienced.


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New York Institute of Technology, School of Architecture and Design at the 17th International Architecture Biennale 2021, and the Virtual Italian Pavilion

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