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Future Forward

Members of our team attended the AIA Colorado Practice + Design Conference: Future Forward, held Oct. 31–Nov. 2, in Breckenridge, Colorado. This annual event gathers over 600 architects and design professionals from across the state for education and networking opportunities.


This year’s conference explored the future of architecture through the theme “Future Forward.” Rapid changes in the environment, technology, and society are forcing us to think carefully yet quickly about how we design the future. Here are a few thought-provoking takeaways that our team brought back with them.


Innovations for the Future

Autonomous vehicles: By 2030 (which isn’t too far off), shared autonomous vehicles will be here. What does that mean for parking? Think about the near future and how much less parking will be required. For commercial and hospitality projects, we may think of reducing or eliminating parking structures (or even planning for reuse in the future) or committing to a smaller parking lot knowing that in time, vehicles will pack in tightly for additional spaces.


Housing market: There is a mismatch of what the housing market prefers (townhomes and multifamily) versus what is being built and available (single family). The suburban population is growing faster because people are being priced out of cities, yet still want to live the city lifestyle (walkable to restaurants and shops). This notion can reinvigorate planners and designers to transform dying suburban malls and office parks into urban centers that, done right, renew the appeal of these communities as places to live, work and invest.


BIM models: Change management and quantifiable wellness benefits can be improved through the use of collaborative BIM models.

Design + Practice Inspiration

Iceland Architecture: Basalt, an architecture firm out of Iceland, shared their geothermal-focused work. One of the goals of their team is to maximize guest experience by creating a positive dialogue between the natural and built environment. How they design for the experience of the user is beautiful, unique, and inspiring.


Co-Op Housing: Mark Falcone of Continuum Partners in Denver highlighted a local project where they are experimenting with co-op style owned housing. Designing smart, connected communities also delivers enhanced resilience and healthier living conditions.


Beams: Using beams with minimal mass and prefabricated shapes can simplify and accelerate the construction process.


Environmental Sustainability

Retrofit: When we can’t start from scratch, retrofitting for the new energy economy is exciting and easy to achieve. As a team, we can also apply these principles to our remodel work at R+B. Personally, team members will look at installing insulation in their own 1950s home, for example, or upgrading the boiler. It’s the best way to diminish reliance on fossil fuels.


Reclaim space: Design can encourage people to come, stay, and interact to improve their emotional health. This can be done by simply designing reclaimed spaces – under an overpass, an old or unused parking lot, or old train tracks. Dig Studio’s temporary park in an urban center in Denver is a great example.


Reduce energy: When thinking about sustainability within our designs, decisions to reduce energy in buildings can be made immediately, and the impact will be worth it in the long term.


Net-zero: Net-zero housing can be achieved without a lot of extra steps.


Adapting PV: Looking for new ways to use PV on the exterior of a building, such as the ability to change its’ color through the use of a film applied to the panel.