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We’ll always need buildings, so long as the wind blows and the temperature drops, but the virtual reality of contemporary life has changed our relationship to physical space. Buildings, particularly in the public realm, aren’t as essential as they used to be.
How important is a convention center in the age of webinars? Schools, libraries and workplaces when information is so easy to share digitally? Airports and hotels when friends connect via Facebook and FaceTime?
Architects have felt the pressure and sweated the possibility that their once-enviable profession is headed toward irrelevancy. We’ll always need them, too, but how much depends on what they can bring to the table beyond four sturdy walls and a roof.
The good news is that the profession is changing. Slowly, and with some good ideas leading the way, architects, planners and designers have begun moving from defense to offense, creating spaces that do more than protect us from the elements. The best new buildings actually make us healthier by encouraging exercise and better diet. They improve our energy levels and attitudes by balancing our exposure to light and sound. Well-designed public places strengthen communities by drawing users from across social and economic divides to shared experiences. ….