Buildings That Learn 

A building is a durable undertaking. It’s a commitment of substantial resources coupled with a high degree of risk.

As the world changes at ever increasing rates, decision makers are increasingly concerned about making long-term decisions. This is especially true with buildings. How do you know that the thing you’re building is the right answer? How do you know it will be the right answer decades from now? How will it change, adapt and respond to a changing world?

How do you ensure that the high cost of making a building will return value for the longest period of time?

The wrong approach is to make buildings ever cheaper and temporary. Not sure what’s coming? Don’t commit.  Not sure how long it will be needed? Make it recyclable so you can throw it away if necessary.  Thus inevitable obsolescence has lower impacts. But this leads to a culture of flimsy, tentative, disposable buildings and dysfunctional neighborhoods.

At DTA we reject this approach. We believe durability is the new green and we approach the puzzle of durability with open minds.

Is it possible to make a building that will retain high value as uses change? Yes.

Is it possible to make a building that can absorb a changing culture without requiring wholesale dismantling or disposal? Yes.

Is it possible to understand a client’s or community’s needs now and rehearse, and effectively predict, the likely ways those needs will change over time? Yes.

Is it possible to make a place useful over time by not only designing better buildings, but by designing better expectations as well? Yes.

Testing outliers and returning them if they don’t work is not an option. You can’t send a building you don’t like back to Amazon. It is increasingly necessary to build with a high level of responsibility and to avoid ephemera. It is increasingly necessary to design futures with equal responsibility.

Which means we need to build smarter buildings in the first place. And we’re not talking about trendy tech smart…we mean genuinely smart. We mean buildings that reflect smart expectations, well-crafted goals and a greater sense of durable community. We mean buildings that embrace fundamental principals of accommodation and avoid hyper-specialization.

At DTA we seek to build durable buildings, substantial buildings, buildings that are bright, buildings that are lucid, buildings that can learn in effective ways so that they remain valuable far longer.

That means timeless architecture, simple forms, flexible spaces and more emphasis on harmony with the larger community.

A smart building doesn’t get thrown away when the next version is released. It learns, it adapts, and it serve its purposes long after the trends of the year have faded.