Resolutions and predictions. Every new year provokes them, and I am easily sucked into the fun of it. The future is unclear, but what is certain is the world of architecture is always moving forward toward change. But I’m no architect, so I asked my fellow Overlanders what their predictions are for our industry in 2017.

Design

I believe that there will be a greater focus on human-centered design and on measuring what really matters. Style will take a back seat to meaning. Engagement of citizens in the shaping of the civic realm will be enhanced. —Rick Archer, FAIA, LEED AP,  CEO & Founding Principal

Local citizens engage in the Build Your Own Broadway (BYOBroadway) event.

More authenticity and less of a crafted advertising approach to creating content that represents an organization, a service or product. In the world of architecture this means an honest response to a fast-changing global awareness of the role and responsibility of the architect in impacting people’s lives and the quality of the human experience. —Martha Durke, Graphics Director

I see the continued conversation around the future of walkable cities. And people will become more conscious about buildings better fitting into their context better and really meeting users’ needs. —Leah Ferrara, Intern

Given the fact that there is already a trend for more infill development, from a zoning perspective, there will be a lot more collaboration with developers. —Siboney Díaz-Sánchez, Designer

Architectural representations will move away from photorealism toward abstraction, and Archigram will come back in style. Visually, it sparks thoughts that produce results, kind of like how Startrek gave us intriguing futuristic ideas and now we’re producing them. —Aaron Stone, Intern

Atmosphere by Aaron Stone. Produced while in the Expander Lab at UTSA for the 1000 Parks and a Line in the Sky project

Projects will be designed with more versatility to be retrofitted to something else, particularly parking garages, which have the biggest known potential now. Bjark Ingles redefined the way projects are conceptualized with multiple purposes. More projects like BIG’s Amager Bakke Wate-to-Energy Plant, which will simultaneously produce clean energy and provide flat (but snowy) Denmark with a sports and recreation venue—a ski slope—on its slanted rooftop. —Nathaniel Cram, AIA, LEED AP, Architect

"There’s this world-changing element in architecture that, once you’re done, that’s how the world is. When you started, it was a crazy idea. Now it’s just how it is."
— Bjarke Ingels, Founder Partner, BIG-Bjarke Ingels Group

In a globalizing world uniqueness of culture and place will be cherished and celebrated. —James Andrews, RIBA, Int’l. Assoc. AIA, LEED AP, Principal

Design for energy, resources, wellness, and versatility will rise in priority for the industry. —Adam Bush, AIA, LEED AP, Senior Architect

Sustainability

Clients will become more sustainably-minded now that the evidence of climate change is harder to ignore. Sustainable technologies will see more advancement in the private industry. In the new political climate, the future of public funding looks shaky. —Tamra Collins, Designer

This graph, based on the comparison of atmospheric samples contained in ice cores and more recent direct measurements, provides evidence that atmospheric CO2 has increased since the Industrial Revolution. (Credit: Vostok ice core data/J.R. Petit et al.; NOAA Mauna Loa CO2 record.) Find out more about ice cores (external site).

Technology

We will begin to see design breakthroughs using artificial intelligence as a key tool which will incorporate virtual reality modeling for clients in all sectors of our industry. —Tim Blonkvist, Board Chairman & Founding Principal

My prediction is a beta version of architectural design in VR space. An interface that brings all the technologies (Revit, VR, Rendering) together in a user friendly manner is on the horizon. —Steve Bellanger, RA, Architect

VR technology we are using now will be “old hat” in 6 months because of a decrease in price and increase in accessibility, so it will be used industry-wide. It will integrate into workflow and go from being an additional technology in design processes to just another part of what architects do (like Revit). We’ll see a rapid spike in the adoption of VR. Last year 2016 saw the the technology leap in VR, and 2017 will see the adoption and integration of VR in all aspects of architecture and urban design, as well as the entertainment industry. Sony recently released a headset for Play Stations. They just brought VR to the consumer level. —Daniel Carpio, IT Director

Augmented Reality will advance in the construction field. There’s definitely a need to see what’s existing and what’s potentially existing (at a site) and what’s in the walls now. We can do that now a little, but it will be developed further. —Daniel Carpio, IT Director

I think the technology right now, like mobile apps, can help us a lot. An example is the Comfy App which can control indoor environments. Technology can help us a lot to improve the occupant comfort by plugging into mechanical systems to personally change temperature zones while saving money and energy. Apps like this will be consider in the design more. External technology will inform design so that the user can take control of sustainability and comfort post occupancy. —Qinheng Zhang, LEED AP, Designer

People

A woman will win the Pritzker prize. —Tamra Collins, Designer

An iconic architect will pass away. —Forrest Smith, Office Intern

Transportation

With Uber and Lyft now and driverless cars in the near future, there will be less need for parking structures and spaces. Less people will own cars. More people will walk, bike, carpool, or take the bus to work (or Ubering if need be) so this will really impact the need for parking structures, surface parking, and parking spaces on streets. We’re already talking about this on our projects. The architecture industry will also have a hand in changing city codes that require minimum parking per sq ft, because the actual need will be significantly less.—Adam Bush, AIA, LEED AP, Senior Architect

Google driverless car

Parking garages will be repurposed when less people own cars. An important design challenge is how to  design today’s parking garages with retrofitting in mind for the future. What will its purpose be in a few years when its usefulness as a parking garage has expired? —Giorgio Colussi, AIA, LEED AP, Senior Architect

Architecture Industry

Developers will have even more influence and projects will become more and more economically driven. —Cameron Kraus, Designer

The tiny home movement will continue to grow. —Adam Bush, AIA, LEED AP, Senior Architect

Higherarchies within architecture and industry standards will continually break down into more minutia. —Nathaniel Cram, AIA, LEED AP, Architect

Our industry will be shaken up by disruptive patterns including the franchising of architectural design offices tethered to mainstream firms, allowing the younger generation to explore their creativity without the traditional barriers like length of service and climbing the corporate ladder. Once licensed they will enjoy opportunities to start their own practice anywhere in the world without absorbing the high cost of office space ,insureance, financing, bill collections and marketing. By being connected to larger more stable firms young creatives can get started sooner and havethe proper support structure to ensure success. The home company brand and reach will broaden while allowing ownership and individual creative expression. This will allow earlier and faster startups with proper support and positive encouragement to influence the world through transformative design. Think of it as Uber or Airbnb of our industry . It will extend reach and opportunity for all and most importantly it will unlock the embedded potential and untapped resources in the young architects of tomorrow. —Tim Blonkvist, FAIA, LEED AP, Board Chairman & Founding Principal

Millenials will reimagine hospitality, office, living, & transportation design standards. —Giorgio Colussi, AIA, LEED AP, Senior Architect

The Economy

Design and construction will slow down toward the end of the year, because investors will be more tight with finances. Projects not funded by institutions will struggle with funding. —Rachel Brehm, Client Development

US consumerism will see a slow decline, so the result will be a very slow trend toward building smaller & more efficiently. —Adam Bush, AIA, LEED AP, Senior Architect

Mass urban migration into city centers will continue. The charter school movement will rapidly develop. —Joshua Newton, AIA, Architect

I think we’re going to have a fluctuating economy so there may be a lot of job depression. But then again, with more current focus on local manufacturing, local growth, local infrastructure, this year could be positive for our industry. We’ve seen steady growth since the recession, right? And there are more and more jobs in the architecture field, more and more young professionals getting licensed. But, I don’t think things will stay the same. A fork in the road is coming, and the economy will either take a positive turn, or a negative one. —Alan Gombera, LEED GA, Senior Designer

Smaller cities will continue to be the quickest developing, not only in the realms of real estate, but in innovative transportation and technologies. —Giorgio Colussi, AIA, LEED AP, Senior Architect

 

As an architect you design for the present, with an awareness of the past, for a future which is essentially unknown. -Norman Foster

“As an architect you design for the present, with an awareness of the past, for a future which is essentially unknown.” —Norman Foster

This year (2017) comes with some big question marks, but no matter what the outcome of the next three hundred sixty days, we’ll take Foster’s wisdom to heart and press on in good faith, keeping lessons from the past in mind in order to inform our decisions for the future. I look forward to reviewing this post periodically in the coming months to see how our forecasts unfold.

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