As I work with young architects today, I can’t help but imagine the world they will create. Architects have long been innovators, working to reimagine the spaces we live, work and play in. But in today’s world, the boundaries are being blown away. This next generation will lead another industrial revolution. Design-thinking skills have never been in more demand.
“Architects are trained to envision what doesn’t yet exist, provide for unanticipated needs and accommodate future changes through greater flexibility,” Thomas Fisher, a professor and director of the Metropolitan Design Center recently wrote in an article in Architecture MN.
Today’s entrepreneurs are raising the bar on what a space can be. As architects, we look at spaces and see much more than the building. We’re developing strategic designs and layout plans that allow organizations to do what they do even better. We’re seeing a new set of characteristics shaping spaces today.
Leaders desire spaces that allow…
- Rapid change.
The rate of change in today’s world has been exponential. Many of the ways organizations did things even 5 years ago no longer exist and many of the jobs we’ll need to fill even 5 years from now can hardly be imagined. Our spaces need to be nimble and eager for change, too. That means building footprints designed to be easily adaptable to change without excessive cost or loss of time. Bearing wall and solid non-moveable wall construction is giving way to structural systems and walls systems that are flexible. The new Wells Fargo East Town Towers in Minneapolis include over $3 million in moveable walls that can be changed over a weekend.
- Radical combinations of activities.
Building spaces requires a significant investment and come with additional maintenance expenses. It’s no longer viable for one space to have one use or to be used only part of the time anymore. Collaboration and constantly emerging technology are driving innovation and challenging us to create spaces that are adaptable for a variety of activities. A lunchroom can be a meeting space, training center or area for small group projects. With good design, flexible furniture and technology, a space can adapt to multiple uses.
- People to work faster and better.
Our environments affect our effectiveness, our productivity and our job satisfaction. What inspires creativity and performance in a workplace? That’s the question new entrepreneurs are seeking in their workplace and they’re challenging us to pair their facilities with what inspires their workforce. The design of workspaces and robust access to technology make a difference in both efficiency and collaboration for organizations.
Architects have long worked to create spaces aligned with an organization’s goals. What’s changing are those goals. They are becoming more dynamic. The vision of today’s entrepreneurs makes our work in architecture even more rewarding. They’re feeding into our natural role as problem solvers, and together with clients, we are solving their problems in new and creative ways.