Anton Harfmann teaches construction and technology classes at the University of Cincinnati (UC) while also serving as an associate dean in its College of Design, Art, Architecture, and Planning. The native of central New York state began his career close to home, receiving undergraduate and graduate degrees in architecture from the University at Buffalo–SUNY. He also pursued advanced studies in civil engineering in Buffalo, putting himself through school by building additions and remodeling houses during breaks.
That experience in the 1980s—when computer use in design and construction was in its infancy—informs Harfmann’s work to this day. “My entire career has been trying to resolve that gap between the pristine and precise environment of the computer, and the mundane, dirty, dangerous, and heavy reality of materials and construction,” he says.
Harfmann initially taught at his alma mater, then moved to UC in 1992. An early class he taught at Cincinnati involved the 3D modeling of a house that was being built for Habitat for Humanity. He and the class kept track of materials and waste, accounting for every piece brought to the site and how it could be cut to maximum efficiency during the construction process. “I was using building information modeling before it was called BIM,” Harfmann says of the experience. “That’s the space that I’ve been playing in, and I take the students along for the ride.”
“Being able to hit a button … and having it produce a physical object is awesome,” he says of current architectural technology. “If you can model it, you can make it.”