Resiliency, material health among top AEC focuses for 2014: Perkins+Will survey

Firm predicts designs will need to accommodate more physical activity, technology, and generational preferences.

January 10, 2014 |

Architectural giant Perkins+Will recently surveyed its staff of 1,500 design pros to forcast hot trends in the AEC field for 2014. The resulting Design + Insights Survey reflects a global perspective, influenced by the firm's active international projects.

Trend 1: Design + Resiliency

Robin Guenther, FAIA, LEED AP, Principal/Sustainable Healthcare Design Leader, labels Superstorm Sandy "a critical wake-up call." The report predicts that designers will pay more attention to creating work that accounts for the possiblity of natural disasters. Preparedness will be integrated with community-based design responses to impacts such as earthquakes, tornados, floods, and drought.

Trend 2: Design + Sustainability

Health aspects of building materials, as well as reduction in water use and adaptation to climate change, will be strong focuses in green design. The report characterizes material health as "the number one concern for 2014" among all sustainability issues.

Trend 3: Design + Active Design

Employee health and wellness will be increasingly central to design, the firm predicts. The intention to accommodate more movement opportunities in projects will have to overcome the fact that some clients do not see this as a high priority, particularly in workplace design. Nevertheless, "There are some alarming statistics that indicate movement throughout the day—or the lack of it—is part of a new frontier in predicting health outcomes," according to Joan Blumenfeld, FAIA, LEED AP, Principal/Global Interior Design Leader.

Trend 4: Design + Multigenerational Workplaces

A mix of age groups will continue to force change in workplace culture, collaboration, and research, according to the report. Traditionalists, Baby Boomers, Millennials, and Generation Xers often have very different ideas about what constitutes a productive and effective workplace.  Millennials (1980-2000) prioritize tools and technologies, whereas Boomers (1946-1964) place a strong emphasis on a supportive culture. "Design [should address] the diverse workstyles emerging as a result of the generational shift underway," says Frederick J. Schmidt, IIDA, LEED AP, Managing Principal/Global Corporate Interiors Practice Chair.

Trend 5: Design + Technology

Modeling, collaboration, and mobile technologies will dramatically influence better design processes, the report predicts. Current key focuses include energy modeling and environmental analysis; project- and information-management applications; remote collaboration/communications technologies; and smartphones/tablets that enable mobility. Important emerging technologies include free and publicly available data sets, ubiquitous remote sensing, and rapid application development.


Click here to download the full report.

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