This invention is directed to a method and architecture for efficiently solving complex problems requiring information retrieval from multiple, logically interrelated, distributed databases. The method is well suited for use in the manufacturing Virtual Design Environment. The method uses coevolutionary agents incorporating evolutionary algorithms located at different nodes in a distributed network. The coevolutionary agents conduct localized database searches and evolve at their respective nodes while sharing information with other coevolutionary agents working the same problem. Results or solutions to the problem posed are available at each network node containing a coevolutionary agent working the problem.