2009 proved to be a challenging year in architecture, albeit one that yielded revolutions in methodology, style, and attitude. Given the economic climate, the scale and quantity of architectural projects was curtailed dramatically. However, new constraints led to advances in the implementation of green technology, reuse and renovation of existing structures, creative reconciliation of budget and content, local material sourcing, and integration of modern and historic styles.
Sustainability was truly one of the most relevant issues facing the architectural community over the course of the last year. 2009 saw the thoughtful integration of environmentally-conscious technology into projects at their outset. Instead of post-construction additions, architects and builders paired passive design with technology. Solar orientation, wind patterns, and existing site conditions arose as increasingly pertinent considerations.
Part of the movement toward increased sustainability was the renovation of existing structures in lieu of new construction. Projects such as New York’s High Line (a public park built atop an abandoned, elevated rail line) proved that neglected areas could be effectively repurposed without demolishing existing structures and rebuilding from the ground up.
Locality also became an important issue for many architects, in terms of both project location and material sourcing. Shorter material transport distance, site familiarity, and support of local businesses were among the top benefits of architects working locally.
2010 promises to continue many of the trends initiated in 2009. Local, small-scale projects will likely continue to take precedence and provide economic sustainability for architects as the profession stabilizes on a national level. Environmentally conscious design and building methods will become progressively more important at all stages of the architectural process. Overall, the challenges faced in 2009 will ultimately give rise to an improved, conscientious, and more sustainable design community.
Words by: Dan Carr (Design/Architecture Editor)