Pushing the Envelope, Building the Team



One glance at our table of contents should persuade you that this is an unusually exciting time for architects who have the courage and vision to push the envelope. The momentum at the intersection of technology and design today is redefining both the practical forces and the aesthetic faces that drive architecture.

Christina Nelson’s ONSITE feature about El Monte Sagrado, an eco-spa in Taos, N.M., presents green tech at its most adventurous. This remarkable four-acre design masterfully melds recycling technologies and sustainable shelter with cutting-edge electronics, vibrant biospheres, primordial stone and unspoiled wood to create a celebration of the human spirit.

A more traditional brand of spiritualism lies at the heart of Regina Raiford Babcock’s ARCHITECHNOLOGY feature about The City Church of Seattle, which is using high-speed computer networks and state-of-the-art broadcast equipment to transform retrofits of three incongruent, geographically isolated buildings into a single virtual congregation.

Or consider Sara Malone’s INNOVATIONS column, which explores the National Building Museum’s “Liquid Stone” exhibition. To say that something is cast in concrete is to epitomize the immutable, the non-vibrant, the inert—in short, the very antithesis of our adrenalized, high-gear culture. Yet this exhibition opens our eyes to three new developments in the technology of concrete construction that are certain to have profound impacts on how buildings are designed and used in years to come.

Of course, when it comes to technology, the architect’s job is often as much about the management of a multifaceted design team as it is about design itself. We offer two insights into the nature of the relationship between architect and team. In the first, Joanne Friedrick’s SECURE COMMUNIQUÉ column explores why early involvement of a security integrator in a design project is crucial in today’s tense world. And in the LIGHTING BY DESIGN column, I visit with an “unholy alliance” — an architect, a client and a builder who joined forces to create a one-of-a-kind structure that perfectly realized client’s unique vision.

Finally, we venture into the instructional: First, Rick Kamlet of JBL Pro takes you through our AIA-approved continuing education course on acoustics and sound system design. Pay attention. This is a case where ignorance could be deafening. Second, our Product Spotlight looks at energy-efficient lighting not just as a collection of new devices but through the system design known as “daylight harvesting.”

We had a lot of fun putting this issue together. I hope you have as much fun reading it.

Rob Fixmer