How will Architects Design for the Future?

By Marisa Pooley, APR, AIA Colorado

As Colorado’s development boom continues at full speed and the AEC industry works overtime to keep up, how do we ensure that we’re building a solid foundation for future generations? Rapid changes in the environment, technology and society are forcing us to think carefully — and quickly — about how we design the future. So how will the profession of architecture respond? What opportunities will architects face and how will they overcome the challenges of tomorrow? These are the questions that the 2019 AIA Colorado Practice + Design Conference: Future Forward aims to address.

For Frederick Gale, AIA, senior project architect at Stantec and chair of the 2019 AIA Colorado Practice + Design Conference Committee, it’s high-time to start planning for the future.

“I think that as practitioners we tend to get caught up in the eternal present of project work and rarely have the opportunity to look beyond our next business development effort,” said Gale. “My hope is that by focusing on the future of our profession, our members might be reminded that we’re all involved in creating the future, and that comes with certain responsibilities.”

Though there are predictions that the national economy may be slowing down, spending on nonresidential building is expected to increase almost 4 percent this year and an additional 2.4 percent in 2020, according to the AIA Consensus Construction Forecast Panel’s midyear update. This means that Colorado will continue to rely on architects and developers to create sustainable and prosperous communities. And in order to do so successfully, they need to be on the forefront of trends and the most pressing issues.

“We’re in a place where technology, culture and the profession are changing at a rapid pace; in order to remain relevant and able to provide value to our clients and communities, the profession needs to change and evolve with the times,” said Kaylyn Kirby, AIA, 2019 AIA Colorado board member and Practice + Design committee member.

In order to help architects meet the unknown, evolving challenges, the 2019 AIA Colorado Practice + Design Conference Committee worked to develop a diverse lineup of speakers, events, meetups and continuing education.

“The conference is always a great opportunity to be exposed to new and exciting speakers, and to discuss these topics with colleagues. I hope everyone comes away inspired, intellectually challenged and invigorated from networking with fellow architects, designers and vendors,” Kirby said.

The committee has intentionally invited nationally- and internationally-known speakers whose perspectives are meant to both challenge and inspire attendees. The full speaker lineup will be announced in late August, but so far, the conference will include presentations by Shashi Caan, founding partner of the SC Collective and GloW-DESIGN, an international thought leadership
platform; Dan Wood, FAIA and co-founder WORKac in New York; and Rosa T. Sheng, FAIA and principal and director of equity, diversity and inclusion at the Smith Group.

For Kirby, this conference, paired with the Future-Forward theme will be especially impactful for emerging leaders of the profession. Simply, it’s not your mother’s — or more appropriately, your father’s — conference.

“Emerging professionals have a lot to offer their firms and the profession overall. We’ve grown up with more technology in our daily lives, which enables us to pick up new technological skills quickly and see new ways this technology can be applied. We’ve also come of age in a time of great change in the socio-cultural environment, that I think makes us sensitive to the potential larger impact of architecture,” she said.

An annual gathering of more than 600 design and construction professionals, the 2019 Practice + Design Conference: Future Forward takes place October 31 through November 2 in Breckenridge, Colorado.

“I hope attendees come away with a resurged confidence that they have the skills and motivation to make a difference in the day-to-day of their firms and their communities,” Kirby said.

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