As a younger designer who grew up through the 2000s, Austin Crowley has watched how technology has gained complexity and transformed the world, including the built environment.
Now an architectural designer for Michael Graves Architecture & Design (MGA&D) in Princeton, NJ, Crowley says finding the perfect balance between the two is one of his favorite challenges.
“We need to remember to think like designers, and not computer programmers,” Crowley noted during a panel discussion at Design Connections in February.
Designing Workplaces of the Future
Crowley applies this thought process to his own work at MGA&D, which includes a variety of commercial projects like a 750,000-square-foot corporate layout near Washington, D.C. The design aims to create a “workplace of the future,” and puts a strong emphasis on flexible work areas, as compared to traditional defined spaces.
(Photo: Crowley’s portfolio includes designs for a financial services company whose new layout in Texas aims to be efficient, energy conscious and smart.)
“Similar to parks or cafés that encourage interaction in urban areas, the introduction of less formal breakout spaces in buildings is a trend very close to the hearts of younger employees whose productivity feeds off increased collaboration and communication,” he says.
Crowley believes this introduction of less formal breakout spaces in buildings is a trend that will continue to grow over time as companies look to attract the next generations of workers who care deeply about these values, and as technology becomes even more ubiquitous.
Tech(Teams) Benefit Projects
To help find the proper balance between tech and interior design, Crowley and a MGA&D colleague are working to establish an in-house Tech Team—a technology-focused initiative to push the boundaries in design technology and implementation into the firm’s projects.
(Photo: “At Michael Graves, a large portion of our design work focuses on unique project types/scales across the world, and requires thorough attention to site context, cultures and communities,” says Crowley.
For this 4-million-square-foot residential development, Crowley and the MGA&D team worked very closely alongside the client to make sure every design move would positively impact the residents of Colombo, Sri Lanka.)
“Too often ‘disrupting’ is presumed to have a negative impact, but for me disruption serves as a means to new ideas and breakthroughs for design firms,” says Crowley. He adds that his team has received positive responses from clients in tying this technology to their design process.
“As we are now deep into the age of technology, our spaces must be designed for maximum infrastructural flexibility, not physical flexibility, to reflect ongoing development of technological systems,” he notes.
“Smaller and smarter devices, smart products and sustainable materials will continue to improve every day, and our designs need to keep that in mind if we want to produce quality spaces that last over time. However, we must also be sure that technology and humanistic design can merge together in our designs, not overpower one another.”
This Month’s Profiles:
Jacquelyn Hunter of Corgan
Kyle Berry of AECOM
Tyson Baker of PGAV Destinations
Arthur Garcia-Clemente at Partners by Design
► Austin Crowley from Michael Graves Architecture & Design