What is the future of the architecture profession? Veteran architect, Carole C. Wedge, FAIA LEED AP, president of Shepley Bulfinch Richardson & Abbott and a member of AIA Large Firm Roundtable, responds.
Architects are a reflection of the world we live in. When I first started in the mid-1980s, our clients’ expectations were simpler. The process was simpler. But organizational change in their world has led to change in our world. The firms that have thrived through the years have done so because they haven’t been afraid of organizational change.
On the technology side, the future is about two things. The first is embracing technology so we can be integrative and effective. Three years ago, for instance, our firm embraced Revit deliberately and completely. With technology integration sometimes you need to do it gradually, sometimes you need to take a leap—and leaps are harder, of course.
The second thing to note about technology is that it’s changed the client’s world just as quickly as it’s changed ours. Sometimes we want to be further out there, though, and firms are embracing young architects, their comfort with technology, and their comfort with the latest tools. Older architects like me add value and experience, but now apprenticeship and mentorship is turning into a pretzel—with lots of feedback loops through collaboration. The question remains: Can you facilitate big teams and can they ask the right questions? The question of which part of interdisciplinarity makes the most sense for clients, projects, and firms is still a work in progress.
Then there’s the charrette-based process—everyone in the room. And what we mean when we say “everyone” is growing—fabricators, contractors, real estate professionals, economists. So, what a “team” means now is becoming larger and more diverse, a definition complemented by sustainability and an understanding of the integrated environment. As told to William Richards.
To hear from more architects about the future of the profession, and to contribute your own voice, visit architectmagazine.com/AIA.