But the illusion was finally overturned. At the turn of the millennium, reinvention was a dominant theme for movie characters eager to get out of small-town America. in architecture, that feeling has taken the form of building dream cities anywhere but here. In Dubai and Shanghai, our brightest design minds have imagined hermetically sealed towers, malls and museums, largely disconnected from history, community and climate.
However, a widespread reckoning with history has been one of the great gifts of this new decade, as we emerge from the shadow of a pandemic with a sense of urgency around climate action and social justice. The consequences of our past actions as a society are impossible to ignore, and across the United States, designers, architects, and planners are responding by seeking to overhaul existing buildings, mend broken relationships in communities, and renew our social contract through the building. environment.
In New Orleans (“New Orleans planner builds community as anti-freeway activist”)President Biden’s Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act has given planner Amy Stelly a boost, who hopes some of the funds can be used to finally remove a highway that has torn a community apart predominantly African American in the 1960s. In Detroit (“After years of revitalization, Detroit still has a long way to go”), a group of local leaders and activists are trying to shift the city’s focus away from predominantly white suburbs and the newly fashionable downtown to long-neglected neighborhoods that badly need investment. Meanwhile, two libraries—one designed by WORKac in Brooklyn, New York, and the other by Multistudio in Olathe, Kansas—prove the wisdom of harnessing adaptive reuse to make public amenities relevant and vibrant in the world. post-COVID era (“Designs for two libraries reimagine the familiar typology as a community center”).
It is a period of transformation. Six American leaders in architecture and interior design each spoke to Metropolis this summer about a different kind of change (“Executives of six major companies predict where American design is going”). Kimberly Dowdell, recently elected president of the American Institute of Architects for 2024, touts the power of equity and diversity; MASS Design Group Director Joseph Kunkel focuses this perspective on Indigenous communities, hoping that their inclusion and participation will help develop a new understanding of sustainability. HKS director Julie Hiromoto agrees that relearning “indigenous, nature-based ingenuity” is key to tackling the climate crisis. When it comes to workplace, healthcare and hospitality design, three world leaders – Sascha Wagner of the Huntsman Group, Abbie Clary of CannonDesign and Tom Ito of Gensler, respectively – point out that there is no there is no return to the pre-pandemic status quo. On the contrary, their fields are redesigned to center the social link, authenticity and ecological responsibility.
America’s passion for reinvention is moderated into something more grounded and connected to the needs of the masses. If this kind of responsible renewal is the hallmark of American architecture and design today, we expect a very exciting decade.