FOUR X FOUR: 4 Architects/4 Regions/4 Visions/4 the Future

Panel: Mark E. Strauss, FAIA, AICP, LEED AP — Sr. Partner in Charge of Planning, FXFOWLE Architects, New York; Martha L. Welborne, FAIA — Principal, ZGF, and Former Managing Director, Grand Avenue Committee, Los Angeles; Betsy del Monte, AIA — Principal, The Beck Group, Dallas; Michael Damore, AIA — Executive Managing Director and President, Epstein, Chicago; William Menking — Editor-in-Chief, The Architect’s Newspaper (moderator)

The second Four by Four forum continued last year’s presentations and conversation. They discussed how they are redefining their practices and themselves in response to the new administration, the new economy, new technologies, and the future of the profession.

Strauss tackled the political realm: “We are not thinking strategically enough about infrastructure. It’s not just about buildings, it’s about urbanity.” We need to re-program our leaders, he said: “We’re not seeing the political will.”

Welborne used the evolution of the Grand Avenue development project in Los Angeles as an example of how developers and architects are making some creative adjustments in light of the current economy (It’s moving ahead!).

Del Monte looked at the macro and micro models of the BIM process. Her definition of Design for a New Decade: “Technology: doing more and more. Sustainability: a given. Integration: The only way to get it done.”

Damore outlined the effect of the economy in the Chicago market (which holds true in most urban markets): “Private sector real estate is dead; the public sector shows signs of improvement; public/private partnerships have potential, but financing is still a problem; forecasts are still ugly — but improving…Follow the money” (GSA, VA, aviation, TOD, infrastructure, etc.). “Look for unconventional opportunities and add new disciplines.”

At least he ended on a positive note: “Maintain a high level of optimism! There is a future so let’s prepare for it!” Added moderator Menking: “Maybe when we come back next year, things will be rosier.”