PATH - A Public Private Partnership for Advancing Housing Technology

Design Implications for Technology in Housing

[IMAGE: Melvin J. and Claire Levine Hall, University of Pennsylvania. Left to right: Pre-fabricated curtainwall system being installed and the completed project]

September 2006

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What is the role of the architect in advancing innovative technologies?

A variety of mechanisms were utilized to explore those questions including: conducting an expert panel meeting; conducting interviews with housing experts (the results of which were captured in White Papers on four market sectors of the housing industry), and conducting two expert roundtables. Information gleaned during each task was presented to a different group in the following task in order to solicit feedback and additional input.

Conclusions and Recommendations

1. Education and Outreach

It is essential to expand efforts to educate architects about the resources that currently exist within the profession of architecture as well as PATH, and to refine them to better appeal to architects. It is also recommended that a mechanism be developed and implemented within the PATH program for the continued sharing and engagement in the issue of technology innovation processes and examples of successes and failures among peers. Continuing education is a requirement for AIA member architects.

It is essential to work within that system to provide educational programs that offer value and continuing education credits, and subject matter that is relevant, up to date, and timely for housing architects. The form of education must be succinct, easy to access, and offered in a variety of formats to serve the various approaches to learning within this industry.

2. Link Efforts to the Green/Sustainability Movement

The green or sustainability movement was repeatedly cited as a major driving force in all areas of the housing industry during this project. It is critical to link that effort and the momentum, as well as work to influence it. Sustainability is still growing and gaining strength as an approach and as a set of standards for the industry. Suggestions include educating architects about specific technologies that are renewable, help meet LEED requirements, and/or reduce energy use and costs.

3. Develop an Awards or Recognition Program

Awards or recognition programs are useful vehicles for raising awareness as well as setting standards within the profession of architecture. Many of the roundtable participants, interviewees, and speakers commented on the need or desire for such programs as a way to highlight, educate, and inspire professionals and the industry on the issue of technology innovation. Programs of this type also have the added benefit of building key relationships, further advancing and sharing useful information and resources, and setting the standards for technology innovations and advancements in the architectural profession as well as in industry. It is suggested that an awards or recognition program be developed in the near future. In order for such a program to be successful, it should include information on installed performance, installed costs, and be viewed with a "whole building" or systems approach to innovation versus a "widgets" approach.

4. Develop Additional Case Studies on Technology Innovation

The case study is also growing as a preferred method for educating the architectural community on a broad range of topics. The examples captured during the roundtables can continue to be shared and serve the purpose of educating a broader audience. They offer a range of approaches, issues, and outcomes in different project types and regions of the country. Additional case studies should be developed that highlight the design and innovation process and implementation of technology innovations. These case studies should be communicated through a variety of mechanisms including websites, publications, articles, workshops, and chat rooms. It is also possible to tie efforts into the existing continuing education requirements for architects by developing case studies that are part of an educational course with learning units. The most effective case studies should include information on installed performance and installed costs of technologies to be useful and valuable to the intended audience.

Content updated on 7/10/2007

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