Welcome to the ‘Webolution,’ Architects
Philadelphia Architects and designers, like other business
professionals and consumers, are witnessing the onset of an
Internet revolution that will eventually make the industrial
revolution “pale in significance,” a leading futurist and author
told architects here.
Addressing several hundred architects and construction industry
professionals at the third Architects Technology Summit, Frank
Feather said the design industry is in the midst of a “webolution”
driven by an Internet economy “reversing everything the industrial
revolution put into place.
“All of life and commerce is converging on the Web,” Feather
told attendees of the conference, hosted by the CMD Group, a
leading source of construction market data, and the Greenway Group,
a top consulting firm.
The futurist rattled off a volley of statistics, including the
fact that use of the Internet has become the fastest uptake of
technology by households in our history including the telephone and
the television. “Computer chip speeds double every 18 months, a new
personal computer is turned on in the U.S. every two seconds and a
new cell phone is activated every second,” Feather said.
“By 2004, there will be 1 billion active cell phones, half of
those with Web access.
“We’re going wireless,” he added. “Broadband will be abundant
and free. The Internet will always be on. People will be conducting
commerce in their automobiles. E-mail will be read out to you. It’s
very clearly a different world.”
The implications for architects, designers and related
construction industry professionals are vast, Feather commented,
adding that architects must now “design at the speed of
Architects and designers must learn to dramatically “slash
design-to-completion time,” Feather advised. “Become digitally
competitive. Use your ‘info-structure’ as a vehicle for
just-in-time work, and to speed the bidding process. Eliminate
paper, and use multi-media 3-D design models for compelling
presentations and ‘wow effect.’ Use videos, use simulations.”
Feather also advised conference attendees not to build anything
that isn’t “smart” meaning,
any project that doesn’t contain the latest technologies in every
system, and allow for easy upgrades in the future.
“Buildings are no longer structures, but mediums that need to
have flexibility built in,” he said.
Most importantly, Feather encouraged business owners to rethink
their roles in companies. “CEO now means Chief E-Commerce Officer,”
he told the group. “You cannot delegate this function,” he said.
“It must be driven from the top.”