Future-Use Architecture expresses the goal of designing today to allow a building to support human occupancy in many possible but unknown futures tomorrow. The project knits together numerous threads of individual and group exploration related to the balance between flexible and fixed building systems that respond to unforeseeable contingencies while conserving the essential architectural design and performance. The work builds on a long-standing pedagogical approach using the lens of resilience to help students in “ARCH-5120: Comprehensive Design Studio” develop their understanding of integrated, comprehensive design.

Using interviews, analytical drawings, and simulation the team is investigating and documenting the tectonic and performative attributes that facilitate long-term use and persistent change of buildings in a variety of cultural contexts and climates around the world. These case-studies include both historical buildings that have been successfully transformed and contemporary buildings that are designed with future transformability in mind. Grounded in these attributes, the team will develop and describe the future-use theory and design strategies, and document it using precedents that demonstrate the significance of Future-Use Architecture for the making of resilient places.

“What is most intriguing and frankly provocative in the Future-Use Architecture is the idea of developing a process that challenges program-centric schematic design,” says Bob Miklos FAIA, principal at designLab Architects and a member of the School of Architecture Advisory Council. He went on, “The body of work and the tools proposed will help practitioners lead and shape the process of planning for the future, rather than simply reacting to market-driven forces.” Commenting on the wider implications of the proposal, Matthias Ruth—professor and chair of the School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs, and the founding director of Northeastern University’s Resilient Cities Laboratory—observed, “We know resilient cities demand resilient buildings, and that no building can be resilient unless the community around it is as well. I see Future-Use Architecture as a particularly architectural contribution to building greater resilience in the built environment.”

The team was awarded the 2017-2019 Latrobe Prize for this project. Recognized as the premiere architectural research award in the United States, the Latrobe Prize is awarded biennially by the AIA College of Fellows to recognize and support a two-year program of research leading to significant advances in the architecture profession. Members of the 2017 Latrobe Prize jury include: Katherine Schwennsen, FAIA, Clemson University; Stephen T. Ayers, FAIA, Architect of the Capitol;  Frank M. Guillot, FAIA, Guilot-Vivian-Viehmann; Sylvia Kwan, FAIA, Kwan Hanmi Architecture/Planning; Lenore M. Lucey FAIA, Chancellor of College of Fellows; Jud Marquardt FAIA, LMN Architects; Raymond G. Post FAIA, Post Architects; Marilyn Jordan Taylor  FAIA, University of Pennsylvania. In their comments, the Jury particularly noted the holistic quality of the proposal, and its real potential for advancing knowledge.

Principal Investigators

David Fannon | AIA, Member ASHRAE

David Fannon is an architect and building scientist whose work integrates research, analysis, and design to provide occupant comfort and well being in long-lasting, low-resource consuming buildings. He is jointly appointed in the School of Architecture and the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Northeastern University. David earned a Bachelor of Architecture degree from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, a Masters from University of California Berkeley, and he is a registered architect in the state of New York. He is a member of ASHRAE and a LEED Accredited Professional with a Building Design and Construction specialty. Professor Fannon is the corresponding PI for the project, please direct inquiries to him at d.fannon@northeastern.edu or 617-373-2641.

Michelle Laboy | PE, M.Arch, MUP

Michelle’s interest and experience combines archi­tecture with structural engineering and urbanism to understand how grounding buildings on sites enables integration and adaptation to changing environments. Michelle is an assistant professor of architecture at Northeastern University, with an affiliate appointment with the Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering. As a designer with degrees in and architecture and urban planning (University of Michigan) as well as engineering (University of Puerto Rico), she is interested in interdisciplinary design approaches that create productive connections between architecture and the urban landscape.

Peter Wiederspahn | AIA

Peter brings to the team long experience and expertise in the as­sembly and disassembly of materials, to understand how buildings come together and apart. Peter is an associate professor at Northeastern University. His research and pedagogy occur at the confluence of architectural design, production, and performance, with a emphasis on systems, and design research entrepreneurship. Peter earned his Bachelor of Architecture from Syracuse University and his Master of Architecture from Harvard University Graduate School of Design