Sustainability

Getting Back to the Middle

We based parking requirements on absolute peak demand - so that even on Black Friday, everyone, by law, gets a parking space.  Developers were forced to buy more land, and provide worst-case scenario parking, for free, in order to build.  With more than ample parking everywhere, more people choose to drive for trips.  Traffic engineers note the roads are getting congested, and design larger, wider roads to provide capacity.

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Scaling Down Development

Scaling Down Development

There are a lot of problems with our current approach to residential development.  For something in such perpetual demand, it's amazing that the market has not been able to figure out a good way to supply it.  We need quality housing in large quantities.  Note, that adjective: quality.  As we saw in 2006, housing built with no attention to quality or sustainability of place is not truly in demand; it created a valueless bubble that then collapsed. 

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Reimagining of a Habitat For Humanity Houseplan

Reimagining of a Habitat For Humanity Houseplan

This project is a great example of how a few simple customizations to any structure can add value, and that value is amplified when we avoid using the bulldozer as an 'easy' out to our housing needs.  The most sustainable solutions for new buildings are far and away those that involve repurposing and upcycling our existing stock of housing, and even our stock-plan builder home neighborhoods could become more interesting places if housing was allowed to evolve and grow in as unique a way as its inhabitants.

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Architecture in 2047

The American Institute of Architects challenged us to think about how the architect's practice will look in 30 years.  I was inspired to respond by thinking of recent advances in design technology as the infancy of the every tools of the future architect, and I was inspired a little bit by the upcoming release of Blade Runner 2049.

Architecture’s current trajectory will continue to release projects from the silo of the office desktop, and the silo of the architect's brain. Virtual and enhanced reality will pull meetings from board rooms and into infinite occupiable versions, the project constructed and deconstructed many times before breaking ground. Time between iterations will become faster and faster. Hive communication in the Cloud will allow a continuous exchange to more thoroughly describe ideas. Expertise will be shared more readily, as the design community follows the sharing economy down alternate open-model paths that have already started to reshape the way business is done. Lessons learned will more readily be accessible and applied, like a software patch to the design. The end product will be ever more precisely in line with human intention and expectation for the built environment; and the efficiencies afforded by this fine tuning will in turn reduce the burden on the planet. 

The architect’s role must evolve to harness the power of the growing current of data and computational solutions, to shape the project around central tenets and targets, and to communicate the implications of numerous decisions - to be a guiding force and a fixed point in a swarm of forces and numbers.  This role as a guiding force will make the architect of the future an indispensable figure for any size construction project.

Economic forces will attempt to drive projects to serve a narrow purpose, however, it will also be the architect’s responsibility to respond with technology and data to show the undeniability of maintaining sustainability, responsibility and urban connectivity for a tenable world that can continue to grow and thrive at the rates we expect. Undermining these forces will be a continuous battle, but one that the architect can be especially equipped to orchestrate a stand against.
 

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