Visionary Norman Foster Nixes AI as Replacement for Skilled Architects


TL;DR Breakdown

  • Norman Foster, the visionary architect, asserts: “Architects don’t need AI.” 
  • He believes AI lacks the physicality and creativity crucial to architecture.
  • AI’s limitations in abstracting constraints and creating functional designs make architects indispensable in coordinating work and instilling client confidence.

At the age of 80, Norman Foster’s understanding of modern architecture and city landscaping is unmatched. He said the cities designed during the last 60 years were automobile-centric. However, this is now changing with changing economics as the younger generation is less interested in ownership and prefers ride-sharing as a service only. All these factors are going to influence the future of urban planning. He stirred the tech world in a recent interview with AFP.

Foster’s statements regarding Artificial Intelligence

Norman Foster, a British architect, is recognized globally for his mind-blowing work in building design. His work has mesmerized the world for the last 60 years. A veteran of the architectural field, his work has equally impressed people across the globe, from Europe to America and Asia, including China and the Middle East. His work is mesmerizing with marvelous building designs spanning from City Hall in London to the Hearst Tower in New York and Beijing Capital International Airport in China to the Reichstag, which is the new German parliament.

Despite the prevailing enthusiasm for artificial intelligence (AI), Norman Foster remains unconvinced and skeptical of its implications. In a recent interview, he said, 

“Architects don’t need AI.” 

This statement comes from a visionary man who has been at the forefront of modern architecture for decades. He further added,

“Artificial intelligence at the moment has the ability to cheat, to invent.”

Foster also stated,

“We live in a world which is physical; we inhabit buildings, streets, squares. That physicality, you can’t replicate by artificial intelligence.”

Is AI going to replace architects?

Foster’s viewpoint is interesting, as AI is thought to be better than humans. For example, AI can suggest a better plane in less time, render beautiful images quickly, and produce awesome text in the form of reports or essays quite faster than a human can do.

Let’s say we generate pictures of some beautiful-looking houses through MidJourney, which people may admire, but these pictures do not suggest the functionality of a complete house.

Is AI going to replace architects? Should they be scared? Not in the near future. AI can be used to generate ideas, suggestions, and more. But AI cannot abstract and turn constraints into functional, conceptional, and feasible designs. It can’t coordinate the work of other AIs and can’t take liability for its work or make clients feel safe about the millions of dollars in investment. So architects are here to stay.

The AI tool generates what feels like the final image, like a final answer, but it’s skipping many steps to get to that stage.

Foster’s accomplishments

When Norman Foster received the coveted Pritzker Architecture Prize in 1999, his architectural career received considerable attention. The Pritzker Prize, frequently regarded as the highest prize in architecture, is given to architects who have significantly impacted the industry. The fact that Foster won this prize is a testament to his significant contribution to the built environment and his talent for producing buildings that both push the boundaries of design and blend in perfectly with their surroundings.

Foster’s outstanding accomplishments were further recognized in 2009 when he received the Prince of Asturias Award in the Arts category. The Prince of Asturias Awards, given by the Prince of Asturias Foundation in Spain, honor people and groups for their noteworthy achievements in various sectors. Foster’s award in the arts category highlights his artistic vision and the significant aesthetic impact of his architectural works.

Foster also received the AIA Gold Medal from the American Institute of Architects (AIA) in 1994. It’s one of the most prestigious awards in the American architecture profession. The fact that Foster was given this honor shows how much he has contributed to architecture development and how talented he is at building excellent examples of sustainability, usefulness, and design.


There is another type of AI called “strong AI” or “general AI,” which tries to replicate full human cognition, and we are pretty far away from that. But once we get there, that’s going to be scary, for sure. The focal point of concern lies in how AI will shape the future generation of architects and designers.

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Aamir Sheikh

Amir is a media, marketing and content professional working in the digital industry. A veteran in content production Amir is now an enthusiastic cryptocurrency proponent, analyst and writer.

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