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2018 AIA Conference: “A Blueprint for Better Cities”

Posted in Industry News

2018 AIA Conference: “A Blueprint for Better Cities”

As the annual AIA Conference on Architecture descended upon New York City last week, the timing couldn’t have been more appropriate. As Carl Elefante, 2018 AIA President, stated in his opening letter to attendees, “In 2018, humanity is witnessing the dawn of the urban era. For the first time in human history, more than half of global population lives in cities. By the end of this century, nine in ten people will.”

In addition to exhibiting some of the greatest materials, technologies and services to help architects excel at their craft, the AIA Conference also allowed a hub for conversation, education and debate on how to best build not just for today but also for the future.

Key themes and major takeaways from the 2018 AIA Conference:

Using Data to Drive Environmental Decisions

At its core, the architecture community is engaged with creating or reusing buildings that lessen their initial and long-term impacts on the environment. Architects and their partners are looking more and more at historical and predicted data to inform decisions. These decisions offer them guidance in designing structures, selecting materials and weighing the options of rebuilding versus reusing. For example, if a building is designed to be net positive energy based on certain assumptions of the residents’ ongoing energy consumption habits, wouldn’t it make most sense to track historical energy consumption of the residents? Knowing information like this helps architects, engineers and specifiers make the right design choices based on long-term feasibility.

The Push and Pull of Community Impact

Communities are growing and evolving, meaning populations and their habits are changing. Architects must take into account lifestyles to better understand how to maximize design. This design cannot work in a vacuum either, as designers are charged to connect with public works divisions, city planners, public transportation, educators, employers and more in order to implement building designs that work within—and improve—the community’s full ecosystem.

Collaborative Impact Is More Than the Sum of All Parts

Just as architects are working with other industries within the community, they must also engage with the major players within their own discipline. Through charrettes, integrated work sessions and open lines of communication, designers will maximize their effort and draw closer to optimizing the end product. Encourage architects, structural engineers, mechanical engineers and product manufacturers (just to name a few) to have initial and ongoing timely discussions about how designs and products work best with each other. Establish overarching goals and work collaboratively to best reach them.

Equitable and Affordable Housing

As the cost of homeownership and renting continues to rise, architects understand the challenge is to create resilient, sustainably driven and practical structures that are also pleasing to the eye. Yes, it’s a steep challenge, and unfortunately the perfect solution was not presented during the AIA Conference. But, through technological advances, data-driven decisions and smart design, architects may be able to get us one step closer.

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