UW-Milwaukee School of Architecture and Urban Planning
According to Bob Greenstreet, the days of the McMansion are largely
over. "There is real interest in the quality of space rather than
just quantity," says UW-Milwaukeeís architecture dean.
The future, he says, is moving toward greater compactness and
sustainable design ó but good design. "As I see the principle
of good housing design developed in our studios and in our profession,
I can see really almost traditional housing values, those that were
well established in the 1900s, are resurrecting themselves. I think itís
a hopeful period for design."
As technology continues to evolve it will provide better solutions
ó faster construction, and more energy and space efficiency. Along
with that, style will continue to develop, Greenstreet says. "I
am seeing some quite interesting design features associated with
sustainable architecture. Itís inevitable when adding major
components like solar panels. The technology is evolving and becoming
less intrusive, more integrated."
Wade Weissmann Architecture
As Americans come to grips with the fallout from 60 solid years of
sprawl that has taxed our citiesí infrastructure systems, the burden
will be on architects to design spaces that are both functional and
reduce the carbon footprint, Wade Weissmann says. "Finding ways
to embrace new technology and elegantly incorporate that into the
compositions we provide is going to be a very exciting
discussion," he says.
In the future, "green" wonít be the buzzword it is
today, he predicts, but not because it is being written out of the
equation. "Green will just be the average common
denominator," Weissmann says. Testing for all green products
currently is taking place in the domestic realm as product development
is still in its infancy, he says. "There are still so many
opportunities to explore, new ground to break. As designers we push
Though his architectural practice is rooted in "timeless
geometrical configuration," he appreciates modern design. "I
do see us moving into smaller spaces. The idea of contemporary styles
is very appealing. They can blur the space from one boundary to
another; a bigger space that accommodates more functions."
As lifestyles shift away from the formalities of previous
generations, our homes will continue to reflect that, he says.
"We need different kinds of spaces than our parents did. People
are more active, so they need a larger spectrum of clothing, more
storage. We need places to change a number of times a day. Thatís
sort of functional and kind of cultural," he says. "We want
more access to the outside. We typically gather for meals and food
preparation and we share in that service. We are no longer carrying
staffs or chefs and cooks and servers as we did a number of
What was once incidental is now essential to the home design
dialogue: mud rooms, home work spaces and fitness areas to accommodate
everything from indoor pools to yoga. "They can be as elaborate
as spa-type spaces or relaxation spiritual centering spaces to spaces
to accommodate specific sports," Weissmann says.Allyson Nemec
Quorum Architects Inc.
The 2001 book, "The Not So Big House: A Blueprint for How We
Really Live," by Sarah Susanka is making a lasting mark on the
direction of residential design, architect Allyson Nemec says. "I
think there has been a lot of movement toward smaller, more manageable
projects in residential design and construction," she says.
"A lot of attention is being paid to green and sustainable
A challenge for the future will be to find ways to bring
energy-efficient technologies, such as solar panels and geothermal
heating and cooling, into an older housing stock with which people are
The immediate trend that points to a drop in second home ownership
might have lasting impact as well, Nemec says, as people choose to age
in place rather than flock to Arizona or Florida for their retirement
years. "The attractiveness of being in one place and knowing your
neighbors and having libraries and schools that are strong, translates
into wanting to stay in your community," she says. "Perhaps
itís an overall right sizing being driven by the economy but will
continue to be a trend. Sustainability is important. People want a
healthy lifestyle that is supported by their home life."
Form and Function
In her 25 years as an interior designer, Nancy Miller has seen the
business evolve to become more and more like the fashion industry.
"I feel strongly that interior design is a fashion
business," she says. "The product manufacturers have made it
a fashion business." Whatís in style this year isnít
necessarily going to be whatís in next year, Miller says.
Part of her job is to discern between the fleeting and the lasting
in interior design. "Itís a conversation I always have at the
very beginning of a project with a client, a discussion of where I
feel trends are going," Miller says. The vessel sink, she notes,
began as a trend that has become integrated into the vocabulary of
interior design. "You canít always tell if something is just
going to be a fashion statement for a couple years."
She points to a number of trends that will continue to evolve in
the near future:
ē Environmentally sensitive design: "It is increasingly
going to be worked in with the design of products and the design of
buildings so that at some point it becomes less conscious and more
automatic. As that happens it will become increasingly affordable. If
the price tag is very high then people will not necessarily go out of
their way to do it unless itís a person who is very committed to
ēGlobal influences: English design, French design and other
European looks rooted in good taste are becoming more prevalent in the
United States. Eastern influence is coming back in as a design style.
"Part of that ties back to the environmentally sensitive design,
that Zen kind of feel."
ēMidcentury modern: "Midcentury pieces are highly
collectible pieces these days, not just furniture but housewares. I
think it gets back to how individual pieces are designed. They can be
highly functional and still have a very contemporary look to
them." She also sees a resurgence in the arts and crafts
ē Sustainable design: She cites an example of daylighting, which
revolves around the placement and sizing and types of windows and how
the light is used so that it becomes more energy efficient. Hand in
hand is the idea of using lighter finishes on walls to achieve better
light reflectance and thereby not using as much energy to light a
ē Personalized interiors: "That in and of itself is a trend
and has been for a number of years that something doesnít have to
adhere to one style."
Even though David Zach has been speaking as a futurist around the
globe for nearly 25 years, he doesnít profess to know the future.
"I always look for implications and the implications of
implications of implications," Zach says. "You cannot know
the future but you can explore the possibilities."
In the arena of design and architecture, he is troubled by the
effects of the immediacy of technology and the resulting loss of
creativity. Take, for instance, the integrated building management
model that allows architects to map out every aspect of a building and
improve efficiencies through the use of new technologies. But does
that advancement lead to better design? "There are always
unforeseen consequences when you solve problems," he says.
"You donít eliminate problems, you create new problems."
The glory associated with architecture, of building something that
is special and that will last, is gone, he says. "Architects are
no longer the leaders, and they should be," he says. "(They)
are being forced more and more to pay attention to the bottom line.
They are becoming accountants." We are in the age of measurement
in which we obsess about the bottom line but donít look at the
horizon, Zach says.
But design, not money itself, is at the center of the economy, he
says. "Innovations lead to the creation of wealth. Design
determines value. The better design, the more value you have,"
He uses the example of an Alexander Eschweiler designed school in
Milwaukee that was closed in 2006 because it no longer meets modern
educational standards. But with its Mother Goose panels, fireplace,
sandbox and rooms with hidden panels, it evokes exactly the kind of
whimsy that make schools fun places to learn, Zach says. He contrasts
that with a modern-day-designed school that has no windows. "Not
all change is progress," Zach says. "Itís not all forward.
There is a desire amongst designers to do something new, but there is
an awful lot of old that should be saved, should be restored.
Otherwise it shows us we have learned nothing over all these
To that end, he says, good measurement always needs to be a subset
of design, not the other way around. Designers shouldnít be afraid
to play and to invoke nature and history in their work, Zach says.
"If you are only thinking in your own little box there is so much
of the world you are going to miss. The things you didnít think were
connectable are really the source of innovation."
Johnsen Schmaling Architects
When Brian Johnsen, partner with Sebastian Schmaling in Johnsen
Schmaling Architects, looks to the future of design, he suggests the
firmís recent project in Racine: a 1,900-square-foot, three-bedroom
house for a family of four. "What has happened to building has
been all about excess," he says. "(This project) is back to
basics: four people sharing one bathroom, no dishwasher. Itís part
of the way they wanted to live, to minimize oneís carbon
The structure is anything but old school with its bold lines and
clean form. Itís also a platinum LEED certified project, which means
it employs the very latest technologies and practices in regard to
sustainability and energy efficiencies. And thatís truly important
to the architects. "When you think about what housing starts to
be, this is the start of it," Johnsen says.
Another project set on pristine wooded land opened up an ethical
debate for the architects. "Every time you dig a hole you are
taking away from what is pure," Johnsen says. "We try to
think of architecture, then, as contributing from a standpoint of
visual sustainability. It works within its context. Itís appropriate
and respects its place in which itís made," he says. "The
intense dialogue Sebastian and myself have on each and every one of
our projects is very important to us."
Translating these concepts to action on a larger scale is the
challenge of the future for architects, city and suburban planners and
developers in order to erase years of disinvestment in cities,
suburban sprawl, overbuilding and cheaply manifested structures.
"We need to adhere to all these principles that everyone is
saying we should. It just canít continue to be a model." m