Robert Ivy, the CEO of the American Institute of Architects, has put forth a unique and challenging concept: Architects should stop looking at the buildings they create as mere objects, and start looking at them as elements of social change. To make this concept more accessible, Ivy has broken it down into actionable steps that he shared with interviewers from Smartplanet.com.
How Can Architecture Affect Public Health?
Ivy put forth the example of Central Park in New York as a notable moment when architects found a way to improve public health. The park’s designers built it in a part of the city where disenfranchised people were living. The park brought the development that has become famous worldwide, but its initial purpose was to be a clean, safe space for people to exercise. Ivy suggests that future architects can build on this idea, putting thought into how their designs can improve the condition of the people occupying them. In addition, thoughtful materials selection in design can go a long way toward improving public health, according to Robert Ivy.
The Responsibility of Architects
Ivy reiterated the mantra of those in the architectural field, to promote health, safety, and welfare, but pointed out that many professionals had heard it repeated so often that it had lost its meaning. He credited the new generation of architects with an increased drive to find ways to improve the world with their art. He suggested careful consideration in the creation of buildings, especially where those buildings impact the lives of the disadvantaged. He also suggested building on the momentum of the next generation by introducing a hackathon, to find ways to integrate software and apps into buildings and architectural designs.
The Power of Collaboration
Toward the end of the interview, Robert Ivy pointed out how important interdisciplinary collaboration can be. Professionals from other fields, including doctors, scientists, and nonprofit leaders can offer insights and perspective that can spark truly great design concepts.
With the leadership of Robert Ivy and his team at the AIA, architects are beginning to regain their initiative to improve the world around them. Architecture professionals are exploring new technologies, and the future of the architecture industry looks brighter than ever before.