May 17, 2023
Long-Term Thinking from Design’s Next Generation
Student work is often like a crystal ball for any profession. The portfolios of graduating young architects and interior designers not only reflect the debates taking place in the profession at large (no doubt filtered into the classroom by instructors) but also give us an inkling of future frontiers where experienced professionals today have barely set foot.
More than 400 students from across the United States and Canada applied to Metropolis’s 2023 Future100 program, hoping to be selected as the best talents graduating in North America this year. SANDOW Design Group EVP and Design Futurist AJ Paron and I had our work cut out for us in determining the final list, and then the Metropolis editorial team had an equally big challenge parsing the portfolios for trends and patterns that might tell us something about the mindset that this generation is bringing to the A&D professions.
The message in the crystal ball is clear—the Future100 are eager to renegotiate the relationship between humans and the earth’s ecosystems. Students like Alyssa Halloran (SCAD), Minghao William Du (The Cooper Union), and Lamia Albunni (University of Cincinnati) see design and construction as regenerative processes, capable of reversing the damage we’ve caused to the natural environment. This perspective is most keenly applied in projects located on waterfronts and in wetlands: Louisiana State University graduate student Courtney Klee’s Grand Isle Restoration project, for example, seeks to rebuild an eroded barrier island through landscaping measures and a breakwater installation (Four Students Probe the Resilience of Wetland Development).
In their broad concern with regenerating ecosystems, two interesting areas of focus appear. The first is a deep respect for Indigenous communities and their knowledge—see Halloran’s Timber in the City project, California College of the Arts student Rizwana Lubis’s multifamily housing proposal Rescape, and University of Michigan student Meghana Tummala’s Repair, Reclaim, & Reparations project.
The second is a focus on biodiversity loss. With more than a million species in danger of extinction, scientists around the world are sounding the alarm about a crisis second only to climate change in the apocalyptic consequences it can have for human life on earth. Professional architects and designers have yet to mainstream this concern within their projects, but as you will read in Building Back Bravely, it’s clear that the 2023 Future100 cohort understands the urgency.
Metropolis will be celebrating this wonderful group of young architects and interior designers throughout April 2023. You can read more about them in this issue, watch them explain their projects on designtvbysandow.com, and get to know them better on metropolismag.com/future100.
This month, we also have a dedicated section on the future of hospitality design. In Making a Scene, associate editor Jaxson Stone tracks the emergence of over-the-top properties where history and showmanship combine to put guests in the spotlight like never before. Additionally, two leaders in the industry—Kathleen Dauber, a partner at Hirsch Bedner Associates, and Paul McElroy, executive vice president of design and construction for Highgate—weigh in on how hospitality might respond to the short-term disruption of the pandemic and the long-term challenges that will result from a changing climate (What’s Next in Hospitality?).
Their sentiments echo the spirit we see in the Future100 student portfolios: During this time of change, we must act with courage and ambition.
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