Architecture today involves much more than imagery and language. Energy performance, water usage, material qualities, code compliance, and maintenance information must all be embedded into today’s complex building models. This information allows a whole new level of modeling, scenario planning, and expectations. New computational tools, like Building Information Modeling software (or BIM), make this kind of multi-variable assessment a part of the design process and part of the expectation of the public. The School of Architecture is actively including the measure of net/gross ratios, parking load calculations and energy performance data into the design studio.
Why New Metrics Matter
The new landscape of computing and the so-called “web 2.0” era make it possible to measure all kinds of changing circumstances. We can aggregate data about the energy performance of whole networks of buildings, and this information can inform what we design now. We can better understand dynamic components like traffic, parking use, and water management. But we can also experiment by changing the relationship of zoning rules about retail store size to encourage local retailers. The ability to measure multiple things at once means that the same tools that we use to design can be used to evaluate, and ultimately to prescribe new regulations that foster better cities. The School of Architecture is working with the IBM Smarter Cities Project to connect the public approvals process in Massachusetts to improved outcomes for communities.