CAD will create new breed of super designer–master builder, predicts RIBA Royal Gold Medallist.
US star architect Frank Gehry predicts that computer technology will enable his profession to wrest control of the project team from contractors.

The designer of Bilbao's Guggenheim Museum said computers would reduce inaccuracy on construction schemes and risks for contractors.

In his acceptance speech for the RIBA's Royal Gold Medal for Architecture last week, he said: "I think there is a great opportunity for the profession to become the master builder again.

"We all of a sudden have a tool that generates material for construction with such a degree of accuracy that it puts the contractor in a place of no great risk. They just follow the rules and they mostly just want to build it."

Gehry added that he is working with his lawyers in the USA to press insurance companies to shift more of the responsibility for a scheme onto the shoulders of the architect because of the reliability of CAD.

The 71-year-old slammed the current construction process in the USA for sidelining the architect.

He said the onerous contracts created a strong link between the contractor and the client and sacrificed design: "The architect gets infantilised much of the time and treated like a little woman. Sweetie, we know you're creative, us big guys know how to do this."

He added: "Contractors don't care whether it has got a curve or a bump or whatever. In fact, what they usually do, if there's a bump there, is go to the client and say, we'll save you a million bucks if you get rid of that."

Gehry confessed he had no computer skills and could not turn a PC on: "I'm scared of it; I have some sort of computer superstition."

The RIBA awarded the honour for Gehry's achievement in architecture rather that for one single building.

The Royal Gold Medal for Architecture is the gift of the Queen and is awarded in recognition of distinguished architects of any nationality.

Gehry's only project in the UK is a cancer care centre currently being planned for a site in Dundee.