An Architectural Education Renaissance, Action, Well-Being, Radical Racial Equity, Kindness, Resilience, Xenobots… The Community Shares Their Predictions for 2022 – Archinect


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Roof of award winning Bait Ur Rouf Mosque by Marina Tabassum (Arnold W. Brunner Memorial Prize). Image courtesy of The Academy of Arts and Letters.

After reflecting on this past year's news and events in Archinect's 2021 Year in Review, we move our focus onto what we can expect in the coming year.
As we approach 2022, and Archinect's 25th anniversary, we've reached out to our community of contributors, previously interviewed individuals, firms leaders, designers, and academics to share their thoughts and predictions for the coming year.  

Image shown: SAY IT LOUD(er) - Ohio Exhibition at Kent State University. Image courtesy of Kent State UniversityPascale Sablan, FAIA, NOMA, LEED APAssociate at Adjaye Associates Architects, Founder & Executive Director Beyond the Built Environment and NOMA National President-Elect '21-'22
2020 was the year of pledges. Many organizations and firms made statements of solidarity. 
2021 was the year of conversation. People brought conversations of Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion into new places and spaces and echoed their importance. The year created a culture of awareness of truths and experiences and accountability to everyone to fight for justice–not just those disenfranchised by architecture. 
My prediction for what we are in for in the coming year is that 2022 will be the year of action! Enough talk, let's work! Empowered with information, and supported by a coalition of people with aligned values, we are positioned to launch and monitor programming, initiatives, and efforts designed to dismantle and eradicate racism, sexism, and oppression from the profession and built environment. These established methods will provide opportunities to track the metrics of progress, that will allow for further refinements to move towards justice in the most efficient and effective way possible.
Image shown: Julia speaking at AIA Cleveland. Photo by John Biliboaca/Image courtesy of Madame ArchitectJulia Gamolina, Assoc. AIAAssociate Principal, Ennead Architects and Founder and EIC of Madame Architect
Fostering Well-Being, Leadership, and Collectives: Based on all that I've heard, seen, and personally experienced in professional practice in 2021, there are three themes that I think will be prominent and transformative in 2022 and beyond. The first is that of designing for emotional well-being; a few studios are already leading the charge for this, like Reddymade's Suchi Reddy incorporating neuroaesthetics into her design approach, Farm's Sasha Topolnytska designing her products for positive emotional experiences, and WIP Collaborative focusing on neurodiversity in a few of their recent projects. The second theme is nurturing healthy leadership; so many women in the profession stepped up significantly this year, from the already key contributions they were making to support staff and firm cultures, in nurturing staff, initiating resource groups, and advocating for others' needs, that I think investments in training for such leadership, and also rewarding it, will and need to be prominent. Finally, I see 2022 as being the year of the collective. So many new collaboratives were established, for professionals to support one another and their communities, throughout the pandemic - like Design Advocates, WIP Collaborative, and sl Collective - that we are continuing to reinforce, no matter whose name is on the door, that no one does anything alone. In my very own career transition, I was specifically looking to join a partnership that worked in this way and focused on these values, selecting Ennead Architects for this very reason.
Image shown: Close-up image of HY CLUTCH "features intricate and complex organic forms that are inspired by natural hymenium lamella structures. Designed by Julia Koerner and sustainably manufactured from plant-based materials in JKD's solar-powered lab in California. Image courtesy of @jk3dofficialJulia Koerner Managing Director | Head of Design of JK Design GMBH and Assistant Adjunct Professor and Director, Summer Programs at UCLA Architecture and Urban Design
I expect that we will see more research into plant-based materials and sustainable manufacturing processes. The recent advancements in additive manufacturing and low carbon production are expanding the boundaries to rethink construction and design processes. Whether in architecture, product design, or fashion this is the area I predict change in 2022. Personally, I experience an ambition towards local and on-demand production and sourcing of local materials while at the same time implementing digital design workflows and processes. This enables us to build upon novel digital aesthetics while also having a positive impact on our cultural heritage, society, and climate.
Image shown: Detroit Publishing Co, P. (1907) The Hermitage, slave quarters, Savannah United States Georgia, 1907. Retrieved from the Library of Congress - From Nicholson's Open Letter "Architecture Gave Me A Black Eye" previously featured on ArchinectKendall Nicholson, Ed.DDirector of Research and Information at Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture
Next year, I see architectural education becoming more radical about its role in racial equity, more speculative about the status quo, and more imaginative about the solutions that improve the lives of people. Only for architects is architecture socially relevant. The power to change our social landscape is lost on our inability to communicate our value. A value that is rarely realized in communities of color. Architectural education has the potential to reallocate constructed resources and change the complexion of communities in real-time, but an education cannot be equitable if it produces racially illiterate graduates. In the new year I see architecture graduates who are as racially literate as they are technologically literate, and a collective of architects and designers who activate critical architectural practices to keep the momentum going.
Image shown: Ringling College of Art and Design Alfred R. Goldstein Library in Sarasota, FL. Image © Jeremy Bitterman/Courtesy of Shepley BulfinchAngela Watson, FAIAPresident and CEO of Shepley Bulfinch
At Shepley Bulfinch, we’ve seen see an increased focus on designing for health and wellness, and adaptability - trends we believe will continue to evolve how we approach design in 2022. In healthcare facilities, specifically, we’re seeing the need for flexible, multipurpose environments. In urban development, our designs must support the built environment’s rapid growth, impacting the pedestrian experience and fabric of cities. In higher education, we foresee a widespread effort to design healthy, equitable, and welcoming spaces by integrating elements that support a wide range of individual needs. Despite some of the differences among industries, one thing is universal: as cities and communities develop, we are looking closely at how architectural decisions made today impact the fabric of communities for the next hundreds of years.
Image shown: Crop Circle Kit' by Taylor Boes & Mackenzie Muhonen. Courtesy of Brandon Clifford/Matter DesignBrandon CliffordPrincipal of Matter Design, Associate Professor & M.Arch Director at MIT
A renaissance is afoot in the field of architectural education. Higher education has been dancing on top of an inflated bubble, defined by a narrow spectrum of presumptions: In-person coursework surrounding a design studio packed into a finite number of years that are tailored to post-adolescent adults. The pandemic shocked this system, destabilizing the false assumptions. And as we collectively drop into the suspended state of weightlessness, we are seeing the beginnings of what will be a new state of equilibrium. There are already reforms to admissions processes, evaluation methods are being upended, mentorship is coming back into focus, and norms are being perpetually questioned. I predict 2022 will be the year that these repositions will manifest into architectural education 3.0.
Image shown: Lance working with participants during SoCalNOMA 2019 Project Pipeline Summer CampLance Collins, AIA, NOMA Director at Partner Energy, President of SoCalNOMA
I think that 2022 will reveal to us if the social equity/justice and DEI movements are a trend in the AEC industry that will fade or if those ideas will become embedded at an institutional level in the way we design our buildings and run our practices. I believe that the sustainability sector has the greatest opportunity to embrace social equity in addition to energy, carbon, health, and other core concepts. With the rise of ESG (environmental, social, governance)., the sustainability sector has the potential to move the needle in a significant way, not only in reaching our greenhouse gas reduction goals, but also in providing a healthier, more equitable environment for all people. 2022 will see the rise of codes, policies, and best practices that will start to address social equity at the procurement, compliance, and operational levels. Hopefully, 2022 will be a continued amplification of the movement for DEI social justice and equity!
Image shown: Imagery from Zsziarska's winning research proposal, "Don't Stay Out Alone: Addressing women's perception of safety and freedom in cities by design." (2021 Norman Foster Travelling Scholarship winner)Weronika Zsziarska2021 Norman Foster Travelling Scholarship Winner and current MSc Architecture, Urbanism, and Building Sciences student at TU Delft
Architects will begin to turn their interest towards the non-urbanized areas, and there will be a search for the new identity of the rural. Hopefully, rural women will be noticed and relevant for that process!
Image shown: House P by PLY+. Image © Jeffrey Kilmer/Courtesy of PLY+Craig Borum and Jen MaigretFounders of PLY+ and Winners of 2021 Emerging Voices Award
In -- Out
Hybrid -- RemoteStabilizers -- DisruptorsOxygen -- CarbonTransferability -- SingularityValues Value -- EngineeringCollectives -- MarketsOutside -- InsideNet Zero -- Net IncomeCommunity -- CorporatePhotosynthesis -- CombustionSpectrum -- BinaryRooms -- SpacesXenobots -- RobotsStrategies -- TacticsRadiation -- Convectiona tempo -- come primaDetail -- DiagramDarkness -- UplightLamb -- LionDeference -- DeterrenceKintsugi -- Shou Sugi BanCLT -- GypsumRelativity -- ExactitudeMultifamily -- Single familyDemocracy -- AutocracyMass -- SkinGravity -- SuspensionArtificial -- SyntheticElectric -- GasModulate -- MediateDecentralized -- ConsolidatedFly Ash -- Portland CementEmbrace -- RectifyInterpret -- DefineTally / Beacon -- ExcelAct -- ReactAugmented -- DiminishedPartial -- AbsoluteWork -- LaborOffice dog -- Covid puppy
Image shown: Pratt Institute School of Architecture BuildingDr. Harriet HarrisDean of Pratt Institute's School of Architecture
While we now understand that COVID’s continuing transmutations have condemned us to the infinitude of a möbius strip of in-person-online teaching hybridity, Schools of Architecture have not only become conditioned to this COVID-classroom contortionism, but exceptionally capable, inventive, and resourceful in succeeding within them, too - despite the longer-hours for same-pay problems this tacitly entails. Throughout 2022 however, our attention on the technological fetishization we once needed to develop second-language level skills in online learning environments will fade and we will witness a renewed commitment to the seismic problems that most preoccupied schools of architecture prior to this - specifically the design and deployment of innovative forms of the climate crisis and social justice curriculum - that will not only transform the prejudices and omissions reflected within our disciplinary canon but the demographic profile of our student, faculty and our professional community too.
Image Shown: Portfolio work provided by Scott McTavishScott McTavishArchitect and Talent Acquisition Specialist for Perkins + Will
There is a scene in the 2005 movie ‘Constantine’ starring Keanu Reeves, whereby Angel Gabriel (played by Tilda Swinton) is about to help unleash Mammon, the son of Lucifer, onto the human race by helping to facilitate the birth. My analogy is that Mammon is, in fact, Covid – unleashed and unwelcome. I didn’t want to write about Covid for a piece about ‘2022 predictions’; sort of willing the virus into non-existence by ignoring it; ‘out of sight, out of mind’. However, this has become more and more difficult, especially after the last few days. The coronavirus is clearly going to be a big part of 2022, whether we like it or not.
One hundred years from now, looking back at 2021 will be an interesting time in the history of humans; over 100 years will have passed since the last global pandemic which made us all sit up and take stock – to look closely at how we work, rest, play and interact. Acting as a catalyst to things that were slowly happening anyway. 2022 is rapidly starting to look uncertain and sketchy, although there is a side of me that likes to embrace the chaos. To observe how resilient, adaptable and nimble we all are in the face of adversity. We are living proof that remote working can operate extremely well and I would imagine that 2022 will bring more of the opportunities and efficiencies that we have already experienced. Not just in the architectural profession but many other sectors and professions as well.
Ever the optimist, 2022 will be a good year. Even if the pandemic swamps us again, we’ll see more acts of kindness, resilience, and triumph in the face of adversity than ever before. As Angel Gabriel says in the film Constantine, ‘It is only in the face of horror that you truly find your noblest self.’ If the new omicron variant doesn’t prove as distracting and dramatic, then we will still continue with the campaigns of inclusivity, diversity, equality, and equanimity – which occasionally may seem a bit too much, but definitely feels like it’s long overdue. Sometimes you have to over-compensate to get things fair and people to take note of. 2022 will be a good year, regardless.
Image shown: “Interfaces” by Alessio Grancini, Milan Design Week 2019 from the Morphosis Installation “Interfaces” (Photo Credits Morphosis) - From Grancini's Archinect feature "Designers in Tech: How Architecture Is Unlocking the Potential of New Emerging Technologies"Alessio GranciniPrototype Engineer at Magic Leap
There is no doubt that 2022’s hashtag seems to be the one of the “Metaverse.” This moment doesn’t come without a warning, there has been a great warm-up in the previous years that led to this and there is currently exponential growth on multiple fronts within the field. Major companies kept creating patents, developing hardware and software that support both AR and VR platforms and the results are finally coming in. The XR environment is no longer that “general chaos” but each entity in the field is focusing on specific niches. Get comfortable seeing more and more applications of AR/VR. They might not impact you directly, but they will be entering your life slowly.  It’s hard to say when things will start aligning and there is a lot of skepticism given how our life just works at the moment, but it wouldn’t be wise to deny that things are moving forward somehow and there are interesting solutions that redefine how we move, spend and earn money online. 
AI implementations keep leading our markets, literally everywhere. Trends, content, corporation choices, dating apps, purchases, you name it… are driven by predictions. If there is something I would suggest for 2022 to everyone is to try to be yourself more than ever right now and investigate if what you are looking for is really what you need-want. Sometimes being ourselves, even if not easy, is still quite nice to have. 
All to say, things are not getting any easier, they are just becoming different and actually more complex, but hopefully always for the best? This moment in history offers a lot of opportunities on the market for those who want to try to understand and own these new concepts. Not gonna lie, the new ground is intriguing and allows us to be the key during the change–way more than in the past. I can understand where the hype comes from. If you want to learn the new space, master it and make it your own revenue, there are tools available for you to do it. Just keep up with the communities that are building these new languages. Being active on Twitter would be a great start to be honest. Being informed without the need to buy NFTs daily, feels quite a step forward. However, I like perceiving disruption in technology as a continuity of the previous investigations and failures in the field. You only need some common sense to imagine that not everyone is going to wear Oculus devices on the way to work and be wandering in the metaverse, but you might want to take into consideration that Oculus sold around 1.9 million VR headsets around the world in the first quarter of 2021 and it keeps growing.
Image shown: Robinson and Williams in Robinson’s DC office circa 1938. Source: Spingarn, Howard University - From Mitchell's featured editorial piece "Black MD’s, Lawyers…and Architects; Part 2"Melvin Mitchell, FAIA, NCARB, NOMACEO at Bryant Mitchell Architects, Developer/Builder, Author, Educator, and Affordable Housing Advocate
Year Two of the  2021-2030 Decade of (Proclaimed) Black Reparations in the Architecture Profession - Either you are in substantial agreement with United Negro College Fund CEO author Michael Lomax’s 3,000-word article title and sub-title - or you are not. But if you are (as I passionately am), you are obligated to apply that premise across our own architecture profession-academy sphere. For the sake of our sanity, let’s set aside the potential impending apocalyptic ending of our democracy. The architecture profession-academy - in contrast to the darker national societal drift - has now done the first part of starting to take a hard internal look at its self. Pledges of reform and redress abound from all quarters. I detect genuine sincerity for the most part. I am less optimistic about what the responses will be to the growing demands – however inchoate at this time – now emanating from the two distinct wings of the Black architecture profession-academic world (the “Theory” wing and the “Business” wing: the former seeking recognition and inclusion in the White Western art/architecture culture canon, and the latter just seeking an equitable “piece of the action” and having no interest at all in a “critique of capitalism”). 
The Lomax article case for the essentiality of HBCUs; Sheryll Cashin’s 2021 book White Space, Black Hoods and her candid observations about the rapaciousness of White businesses in Black neighborhoods; and the December 17, 2021 commencement speech by President Joe Biden at the South Carolina State University - all come together. The President uses the word “Black engineers” frequently throughout his speech in a way that is unmistakably clear code signaling all of the professions, businesses, and individuals that physically design, build, and make things below and above ground, including architects.
“With the infrastructure law we just wrote and signed into law…we are going to create better jobs for millions of people to rebuild our roads, highways, bridges, cities, small towns, rural communities…It means more opportunities for Black businessmen, Black contractors, Black engineers, building Black communities to where they have to be…You are going to see more changes in the next ten years than we’ve seen in the last 50 because of the incredible changes in science and technology” (boldface italics mine).   
To date, the architecture profession-academy’s post-May 2020 George Floyd era responses have included words and small acts that signal good intentions and good faith. Still largely missing are the words and actions that demonstrate full acceptance of the unmistakable implications of President Biden’s South Carolina message. Architecture and how it is produced remains a velvet-gloved White affirmative-action spoils system. Those trillions in construction dollars that Biden is talking about are immediately preceded by billions in design business money for the architecture profession-academy. How that business money’s continuing subjective cultural values-driven system operates must be upended now and replaced with one that prioritizes awarding architectural design commissions based on economic impact. Technical sufficiency for sure, but in Black ‘hoods, Black communal wealth creation, jobs, business, and ownership growth must be the priority barometer over the next two decades. That would be an act of Reparations. 

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