Architectural technology is producing a profound paradigm shift in the way this world works. As stewards of that technology, architects have the power to change not only the way buildings perform, but also the way people perform in those buildings. They can even change the nature of artistic expression, redefining art itself.
Sustainability as an Integrated Whole
As manufacturers and developers race to increase the greenness of their products and projects, the key to true sustainability is putting it all together. The impact of the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. It's not enough anymore to specify energy-efficient lighting systems and high-performance glazing, for example. Pair them with proper siting, floorplans, heating and cooling, and other green features, and see what you get. The emphasis should be on total performance, not points, and the long-term impact of these decisions. Speaking of which, there needs to be an industry-wide standard for evaluating ongoing performance to determine what is truly green. Initial estimates help, and tools such as BIM are making those estimates more reliable, but long-term studies are needed. Complicating things further is the need to integrate sustainable technologies for maximum impact. What's the best combination of design and product? Calling all researchers.
Technology as Art
Digital art forms are emerging, and they're redefining art for the ages. Technology is the paint, and buildings can be the canvas. Imagine what Picasso could have done with a computer and good projection inside a Class-A lobby. Not only can technology enhance an aesthetic, it also can be the aesthetic. Technology can be an incredible tool for stunning new visuals.
Key to using technology as an art form is to seamlessly integrate it into the architecture so that it becomes an essential part of the building and not an add-on. Slapping a screen on a wall that was designed a year ago and hoping it works won't work. The visual technology needs to be every bit as planned as the fenestrations and floorplans.
content is king, and technological advances will increase the ways content can be presented. While some of today's media often look techie and pixilated, advancements will allow smooth, natural forms, allowing a blend of traditional and modern-day art to become something all its own.
The whole of architecture is much greater than any of its parts. By integrating all of those parts, architecture can reach new heights - and take the rest of the world with it.