The recent trend toward irregular shapes in high-rise building construction makes planning formwork layouts a more complex and laborious task that has been mainly conducted by a heuristic method based on the intuitive judgment of formwork engineers. This study suggests a new planning approach integrated with practical software for formwork layout that is optimized for deploying formwork panels around structural obstacles while minimizing manual efforts. The proposed approach uses a harmony search algorithm (HSA); it has demonstrated improvement in work efficiency of formwork and has reduced formwork costs by minimizing both the use of nonstandard panels and the total number of panels. A case verification showed that the proposed planning method provided a 56% decrease in nonstandard panel-covered area with 14.1% lower cost than the previous heuristic approach by a formwork expert. Moreover, the results indicated that HSA was more efficient than the genetic algorithm (GA) in layout planning of formwork panels. The advanced planning method will support formwork engineers and will also contribute to increasing formwork productivity.