Computational Design Detroit | Designing Practice for Computation 08 – 2022 Roundtable. Image Credit: 

On August 2, 2022, Computational Design Detroit ( hosted a roundtable discussion with Detroit area leaders: INFORM Studio’s Michael Guthrie (Founding Principal) along with John Jourden (Design Director, Gensler)

and Rodrigo Manriquez (Cultural Studio Leader, Smithgroup). The discussion focused on how and why they create enabling environments for the long-term implementation of computational methodologies.  


In this conversation among design leaders, it was agreed that there is a need for companies to invest in computation and multidisciplinary hires. While many firms and leaders are scared to be the early adopters of new technologies and methods (could lose money), INFORM Studio believes in the ROI of funding computation research and development. “It is an exploratory process and we must look for the opportunities” Guthrie states, and he continues by sharing an example; “We were developing a software platform and we wanted to be able to utilize this in a way that went to a broader market, but we realized that our real ROI was entry to the market. Being able to get clients we would not have had the opportunity to reach without the development of these tools.” 


Other takeaways from the discussion:


Everyone is going to be a digital technologist

Gensler’s Jourden states: “The future of what is going to happen, everyone is going to do design technology.” He cautions that with continued advances in technology, and a static business model in architecture, Silicon Valley and the tech industries see it as a space to disrupt.


It’s informed design

What’s in it for the leadership? It is informed design. Computational design creates an environment to incubate ideas and an integrated and engaged community working together to solve bigger problems. 

Changing the design delivery process

Guthrie wraps up the discussion stating that “Cost, design, and quality have historically had a negative inverse property, but with digital processes, we can save time, save money, and deliver high quality design. This will allow us to inspire and impact in bigger ways than before.” Chair and Director of Digital Technology at INFORM Studio, Azubike Ononye, reflects on the panel and adds, “To have the highest ROI, AEC businesses need to become creative with their business models and go beyond appending these novel methodologies to traditional practice methods. Instead they should be truly integrating computational methodologies in transformative ways. Computational thinking doesn’t just affect the successful delivery of projects but also gives businesses the ability to develop new sources of value for clients. We have been able to collaborate with and assist our clients on business pain points that are beyond the design of their projects and works to improve how they do business.”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Azubike Ononye, Chair and 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                 Director of Digital Technology at INFORM Studio

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