If you’ve ever been to a conference that lasts a couple of days, you’ve probably noticed the same thing I have – discussions start to happen in the halls during the breaks, friendships are formed, and a sense of collaboration and togetherness is present. I suppose this is human nature, but also speaks to me about the importance of continuing education and especially in-person conferences such as this. I could have shown up, picked up my thumb-drive full of the research papers presented at BEST, and just read them. But what I would have been missing would have been the direct communication and the sharing of ideas.
The process of Architecture is much like this conference. With the technology the profession has at its disposal, especially with Building Information Modeling (BIM) that Ambient Architecture uses, we would never have to have a face to face meeting with anyone from the ownership, design, or construct teams. And sometimes these tools work well to speed design and construction, reduce traveling costs, and facilitate coordination. However, design and construction are a fundamentally collaborative process, and the best dialog and cooperative efforts happen when we, as people, get together in a room and work together to identify the best solution to a given problem.
As architects, we lead the design and construction team to bring the project together successfully. We rely on a whole host of resources, both electronic and human, and we would do well to remember that architecture cannot be accomplished through the work of a single person. I especially enjoyed the sessions today that followed this theme: new online building enclosure and design tools available to architects, the importance of clear communication of the design intent in the construction documents, and more lessons learned.
The lessons learned sessions again pointed to the importance of making careful decisions in the design of new buildings, and the retrofit of existing ones. We have a large stock of existing buildings, some of them very old, that are in need of energy reducing retrofits. Some of these, like brick buildings, can be damaged by a wrong design step or poor construction. A wood framed or steel framed building usually has some kind of exterior siding that can be removed and replaced, but this might not be a possibility for brick buildings, especially historic ones. The only choice is to insulate them from the inside. However, these buildings were never meant to be insulated and can be damaged by moisture building up in the wall assembly and freezing.
To prevent these issues, a careful analysis of the building is needed, insulation systems carefully selected, and detailing/construction carefully executed. Fortunately the same building science technology and principals used in the design of new construction apply to these existing buildings.
I am excited to bring these lessons and a fuller understanding of building science back to assist our clients in designing effective solutions to their building needs. And as much as I enjoyed being in Atlanta, I’m certainly happy to be headed back to Central Oregon.