Architecture, People Place Performance, Sustainability, Workplace Design

Photo: NASA Sustainability Base by Cesar Rubio.

It seems that many of the architectural trends of the last decade have finally run their course. Ross Wimer, who leads AECOM’s architecture practice for the Americas, discusses new directions with Mike Consol, editor of the Institutional Real Estate Letter for the Americas, in this podcast.

These icons will be familiar to anyone who has paid attention to design in the last 10 years: the skyscraper shaped like some kind of kitchen utensil jutting out of the Asian or Middle Eastern cityscape (or London for that matter); the branded downtown high rise that puts a company on the economic map of the American or European city; and the ever-present word…sustainability.

Ross discusses with Mike how program, performance, technology, and people are changing the shape of buildings. City and company iconography are still part of the brief, but Ross says that things are moving away from the “willful form making.” Is it as simple as form following function? Not exactly.

As for sustainability, Ross says, “The dialogue is moving beyond the buzzwords, and people are looking at the long-term performance and how you measure it and how that makes for a more positive space to be in.” So quantitative data is critical, but it’s not just about defining a building by its energy meter.

Mike asks about intelligent buildings. Ross notes that “Buildings are always becoming more sophisticated, and the technology is becoming more economically accessible.” But he is more interested in changing building forms in response to their environments than in layering new technologies onto standard forms. Conversely, technology is aiding this process. Ross explains.

Meanwhile for the Tech giants, instead of wowing the city with a skyscraper while everyone works (or does whatever) from home, it’s about the campus that offers employees all the amenities they could want or need, as well as the flexible and creative workplace to keep innovating.

Listen to Ross’s and Mike’s full conversation here.


Ross WimerRoss Wimer ( leads AECOM’s architecture practice for the Americas.

Jake_89x100Jake Herson ( is a senior writer/editor with AECOM and managing editor of the Connected Cities blog.


Originally published Sep 30, 2014

Author: Jacob Herson