For “future-use architecture,” the time is now

Submitted by vcb_prod on Mon, 02/11/2019 - 17:45
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"]]],[1,"p",[[0,[],0,"The team behind PERSISTENT\u2014Peter Wiederspahn, AIA; Michelle Laboy; and David Fannon, AIA; all professors at Northeastern University\u2019s School of Architecture\u2014came up with the exhibition concept through conversations with leaders at the "],[0,[1],1,"Council on Open Building"],[0,[],0,". In tandem with the council\u2019s 2018 conference in LA, the groups decided to \u201calign their ideas,\u201d as Fannon put it, and highlight buildings designed to accommodate change over time."]]],[1,"p",[[0,[],0,"The final product, which closes this week after two months at the "],[0,[2],1,"A+D Museum"],[0,[],0,", hammers home the need for what Fannon, Laboy, and Wiederspahn call \u201cfuture-use architecture.\u201d In keeping with the research that won them the "],[0,[3],1,"2017 AIA College of Fellows Latrobe Prize"],[0,[],0,", the team interviewed architects in and coded the responses to determine similarities and, ultimately, tangible theories."]]],[1,"p",[[0,[],0,"\u201cWe\u2019re using what\u2019s called grounded theory,\u201d Fannon says, \u201cwhich is a qualitative research method that we\u2019re adapting on an iterative basis. We are talking to architects, asking them the same questions in the same order, and including new people and projects as they come up.\u201d"]]],[1,"p",[[0,[],0,"\u201cYou then start to analyze the responses,\u201d he adds, \u201cand tag them and find connections. From grounded experience and practice, theories start to emerge. It\u2019s quite different than a scientific method, where you come up with a hypothesis and test it accordingly. Here, we\u2019re building the hypothesis out of these responses.\u201d"]]],[1,"p",[[0,[],0,"\u201cWe want to make sure we\u2019re not working entirely from our own biased view of things,\u201d Laboy says. \u201cOur goal is to generate new knowledge that is already embedded in many different firms, projects, and histories but hasn\u2019t been disseminated or pulled out of all these sources and reconsidered as a broader theory.\u201d"]]],[1,"blockquote",[[0,[],0,"\u201cIf we\u2019re going to build buildings that last a long time, it requires a certain degree of humility.\u201d - David Fannon, AIA"]]],[1,"p",[[0,[],0,"When it comes to PERSISTENT\u2019s visuals, the most striking element isn\u2019t the featured projects but the quotes from designers and architects involved. Insightful thoughts from Billie Tsien, AIA, and Todd Williams, FAIA, along with Ann Beha, FAIA, and other leaders in the profession, have been lifted from their interviews and emphasized for all to see."]]],[1,"p",[[0,[],0,"\u201cTo have the text flat and the buildings as 3D models would\u2019ve been totally normal,\u201d Fannon says. \u201cWe wanted to give the quotes a prominence that is typically reserved for structures; to make those the 3D objects, the lovingly crafted physical manifestations. Otherwise, they\u2019re just words that are said and lost.\u201d"]]],[1,"p",[[0,[],0,"This presentation style works in tandem with the choices the team made as to which architects and projects to feature. Rather than promote famous buildings or starchitects, the words themselves are the first things you see, followed by the name of the quoted designer and then drawings of the projects underneath as the literal foundation. What stands out are the ideas, not the people who said them or the buildings they designed."]]],[1,"p",[[0,[],0,"\u201cSomething that happens with architecture exhibits is they become focused on an individual person or personality,\u201d Fannon says. \u201cYes, the architects in our exhibit are credited for the words, and there are important names, but we purposely made it less about the person. All the theories have value, and all are treated equally.\u201d"]]],[1,"h3",[[0,[],0,"Sustainable solutions, by every definition"]]],[1,"p",[[0,[],0,"PERSISTENT marks roughly the halfway point in the team\u2019s two-year Latrobe research project, and Fannon and Laboy both feel the exhibition came at the perfect time. There are clear parallels to sustainability, an idea that has been on the tip of architects\u2019 tongues for decades now, but to them the issue goes beyond questions about energy or materials."]]],[1,"p",[[0,[],0,"\u201cI think sustainability is both a technological and cultural problem,\u201d Laboy says. \u201cWe\u2019ve become accustomed to things having a short lifespan and being designed to be replaced. Our systems, our policies, our politics, and our financial incentives work in such a way that buildings have become a bit more disposable. But the amount of effort that goes into them is enormous. We need to be able to think of them as longer-term investments that reflect our values.\u201d"]]],[1,"p",[[0,[],0,"\u201cBuildings require a tremendous amount of not just physical materials and resources but labor and attention and intellectual activity,\u201d Fannon adds. \u201cIt strikes me as incredibly wasteful to go through all the work to make a building and not make the very best one we know how. One that pays back, not just material or energy debt, but cosmic or karmic debt. It ought to be able to pay that back by offering something valuable to society for a long time.\u201d"]]],[1,"p",[[0,[],0,"Taking that message to the architectural community\u2014let alone to those investing in buildings or hiring architects\u2014will be complex, but the team feels PERSISTENT is a step in the right direction. "]]],[1,"p",[[0,[],0,"\u201cIf we\u2019re going to build buildings that last a long time, it requires a certain degree of humility,\u201d Fannon says. \u201cWe can\u2019t predict the future; we can\u2019t know what the exact use of a building will be; we can\u2019t know what the environment will be like. We need to design buildings now that are able to change, and worthy of lasting long enough to be changed.\u201d"]]],[1,"p",[[0,[4],1,"Steve Cimino is a Los Angeles-based writer and editor with a focus on architecture and design."]]]]}
A recent design exhibition in Los Angeles stressed the need for buildings that can accommodate change over time.
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The A+D Museum in Los Angeles hosted the PERSISTENT exhibition, curated by the winners of the 2017 AIA Latrobe Prize.
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architecture research, future-use architecture, architectural theory, design theory, David Fannon, Michelle Laboy, Latrobe Prize
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