How Architects See the Future of BIM, Sustainability and Tech

30 November 2022Architecture and Engineering, Connected Construction, Digital Transformation, Revit, SustainabilityAEC, AEC Technology, BIM, Sustainability, sustainable design



An increasing number of architecture firms are incorporating building information modeling (BIM) into their practices to gain an edge over the competition. From small residential projects to massive stadium projects, the use of BIM requires teams to collaborate more efficiently. BIM transforms workflows. Through the use of 3D models, BIM promotes better communication with clients, and architects have more control over design. It’s hard to put a value on reducing errors and saving time.

In a 2017 eBook by Architectural Record, architects were asked about architectural design and BIM in the future. Following is a sampling of the replies.

city buildings reflected in glass building, foreground green bushes and shrubs


Susanne Keller, BIM Manager at Itten+Brechbuhl AG, Switzerland, said, “Building information management planning strengthens the role of the architect by allowing for stronger coordination, stronger process control, and the ability to pull all the pieces of the project together.” When a BIM model is created, it is loaded with information. Thus, a 3D model can both benefit and energize a designer. Communication with planners can be laid out in the project management plan, and a rhythm can be established for the method and timing of information exchange. Keller expressed the importance of model exchange and review happening before a coordination meeting, so feedback about collisions can be communicated in advance. Stakeholders can look at their portion of a project, and solutions can be brought to the meeting, rather than simply exposing problems. “This makes the project run better,” Keller said.


Considering the construction industry can do more with less material – for instance high-performance enclosures that are becoming thinner and lighter – Toshiko Mori, of Toshiko Mori Architect in New York, explained we can embrace natural elements. Natural ventilation and sunlight can be incorporated—working with and not against the forces of nature—to make buildings more sustainable. Mori described that throughout most of history, architecture has been about nature in opposition to the manmade environment. Now, new technology and new attitudes can target a closer alliance to nature. She expressed that the trends of needing less space and less separation from nature will continue as technology advances.

Urban or rural, architecture needs to last. Díebédo Francis Kéré of Kéré Architecture, Berlin, expressed that more local materials need to be used in innovative ways. Kéré has been pioneering new methods for the use of brick and natural resources. Using native materials on jobs reduces transportation costs, supports the local economy and makes an authentic connection to its surroundings. Importing materials from distant locations will not help meet the worldwide demand for shelter. Good architecture involves learning the local situation, climate and community needs. Kéré said, “We should take care never to neglect the foundation of architecture: to serve humanity.”

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Buildings are becoming smarter and more networked. Greg Lynn of Greg Lynn Form in California, explained, “The future of architecture is figuring out what happens where the physical and the digital intersect.” Lynn is a believer in “smart building” technology. He expressed that the way buildings are delivered will become more predictable. Lynn described an experience using HoloLens glasses that project augmented reality onto a jobsite, showing in 3D what you’re supposed to be building. Lynn predicted, “In a few years, the workers will be wearing goggles preloaded with information provided by the architects.”

Bjarke Ingels of Bjarke Ingels Group, located in Copenhagen and New York, seemed to be in agreement with Lynn when it comes to virtual representation of the built world. Software continues to enable architects to design with greater precision and complexity.

Ingels also forecasted that new building materials could totally transform architecture. An example he gave was nanotechnology developing carbon materials with “almost magical properties.” Graphene, a monofilament carbon material, is 200 times more conductive than copper, 100 times stronger than steel and more transparent than glass. According to an article on, it is the strongest material in the world, while being lightweight and with extraordinary electrical, thermal and optical properties.

With graphene available at the manufacturing level in 2017 and currently being used in sports gear, Ingels thought it could become cost-effective and commercially available for construction before 2030. A variety of uses would be possible: transparent window photovoltaics, better lithium-ion batteries, environmental sensors, electronics, touch panels, LED lights, and achievement of surprising spans and dimensions. Also encouraging is the idea of using graphene in 3D printing at an industrial scale. Printers could print incredibly strong building components, which could make any architectural form possible and financially feasible.



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