November 28, 2005

Expanded role of architects in making buildings

This diagram illustrates the expanded role that architects need to play in making this century's buildings. The dual goals of creating places that make people feel good and high environmental performance require that the architectural shell acts as the primary means of maintaining the desired indoor climate. Mechanical equipment became the primary means for maintaining climate in the past century, but the era for that architecture is over.

Two things must happen in order for the architectural shell to help maintain indoor climate, rather than just to give the building's appearance. First, our definition of architectural quality must return to what it once was: quality architecture is a beautiful integration of formal expression and environmental performance that creates a place where people like to be. This definition means that environmental performance is just as important as formal expression, and that a design neglecting either is not a quality design.

Second, for the architectural shell to help maintain indoor climate, architects need to know more about building physics and engineering principles. Knowledge only of conceptual development, program allocation, and formal expression will not suffice for creating this century's architecture. Such a limited set of skills ensures that the architect will remain nothing more than a stylist for the elite 10% of expensive buildings constructed every year.

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