Is new technology going to eclipse the need for architects?
No. Rather, it’s going to push architects to be better. Currently, CAD consists of people programming their designs into computers. The new frontier is programs that can take functional, site and budgetary constraints and turn them into logical designs. I don’t think that there will be a program that can do that successfully in the near future, and, more importantly, I don’t think that such a program would eclipse the need for architects.
What many people don’t understand is the conceptual nature of architecture — that architecture is more than just a logical set of plans and an inconsequential set of simple artistic choices. Architecture is a physical manifestation of the ever-shifting balance between form and function given any wildly different set of constraints. Certainly computers could have the capacity to create an efficient blueprint, but they could never work with true architecture.
True architecture is as decidedly human as any other form of art — the function is just an added layer of depth.
I wrote above that new technology will even push architects to be better. I meant that architects, no longer needing to fuss over functional conundrums better left to computers anyway, will be freer to explore the more important facets of architecture. With the assistance of computers, architects will be able to think much more clearly about function. The real architecture will come when they apply that thinking to the place where form and function meet.
So is technology then going to eclipse the need for engineers?
No. Certain simple issues currently dealt with by engineers could perhaps be handled by computers, but real engineering, like real architecture, requires creative, human thinking, not just logical calculations. Engineers need to think outside the box and explore concepts. Like architects, they deal with elegance and beauty, albeit in a very different way.