This year marks The Construction Institute’s 10th Annual Visionaries Forum. As in years past, Rebecca Hopkins, Assoc. AIA, EDAC, introduced the event as a representative of founding partner, Tecton Architects. Her thought-provoking speech emphasizes the power of an innovative mindset, stating that the first step is to create a need for change. We are excited to share her insight and her invitation to continue the transformative dialogue and processes that will advance our organizations, communities, and industry.
by Rebecca Hopkins
In 2010, following a time of major economic upheaval and policy change, Tecton Architects helped the Construction Institute establish the Visionaries Forum with the goal of creating a revolutionary path forward for the A/E/C industry. This first Visionaries Forum focused on tackling the complex problems our industry was facing. Each new year has brought an exploration into the tools, processes, and approaches that have and will continue to radically transform design, construction, and our understanding of the built environment.
Together, we’ve learned about generative design, digital fabrication, and additive manufacturing. We’ve explored reality computing, artificial intelligence, and robotics. We’ve discovered the possibilities of augmented reality, big data collection, and the power of the cloud. The theories became more tangible, the technologies more refined, but at the core of this program are the visionaries — individuals and organizations who have truly embraced the cultural shift, engaged their staff, and created physical and intellectual environments that promote creativity and invention. It has been a decade full of exploration, groundbreaking innovation, and forward-thinking work. However, if you ask theorists today, the A/E/C industry will see more change in the next 10 years than most of us have seen in our lifetimes.
There’s a phrase: “If you do not see a truck racing towards you, you are unlikely to jump out of the way; likewise, if you do not realize that you are standing on a treasure of gold, you are unlikely to bend down and pick it up.” This idea reinforces the importance for organizations, teams, and individuals to realize and create a need for change, before the act of change can take place. Unfortunately, many people have the tendency to miss the most obvious threats and opportunities because they are blinded by the way things are. So how can we create a need for change? How can we convince the industry to take the blindfold off and see that we are standing on a treasure of gold? Peter Hentschel, founding partner of Tecton Architects, had that vision and was one of the masterminds behind this program. Creating the platform to question the way things have always been; the platform to dissect efficiency, enhance profitability, encourage cultural creativity, improve visualization and implementation; the platform to embrace and incorporate change.
At Tecton, this mindset has remained at the core of who we are and how we operate in the world. As we test and invest in new technologies, we leverage passionate staff, trusting relationships, and A/E/C partnerships to continue to innovate together — to truly involve our clients and reach beyond the paradigm. We keep our eyes on other industries, understanding where technology is heading, and speculating about what lies beyond the horizon so we can make better decisions today. It takes work, it takes a commitment to creating space for potential innovation, collaboration . . . for potential change. But it’s worth it, because the results can be exponential in reach and can truly change the way you do business.
As the interconnection between physical things and digital systems continues to stay at the forefront of the conversation, we must continue to push the conversation, invoke curiosity, and expose how we can prosper in this ever-changing industry.
Rebecca Hopkins, Assoc. AIA, EDAC, is an architectural designer and the manager of emerging technology at Tecton Architects and an active member of The Construction Institute.