Design Futures Council

Past Articles


December 17, 2019 | Adrian Parr
Dr. Adrian Parr is a philosopher and cultural critic that works at the intersection of environmental, social and political activism. She is a UNESCO Chair of Water and Human Settlements and Dean of the College of Architecture, Planning, and Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Arlington. We spoke with Adrian about climate change, problems of representation, cooperative design and the impact the A/E/C industry might have on sustainability.


December 10, 2019 |  Mitchell Joachim and Vivian Kuan
Terreform ONE was founded more than a decade ago to find solutions to cities’ environmental challenges by merging education, design, research, public outreach and science, with a concentration on socio-ecological design. Mitchell Joachim and Vivian Kuan spoke with DesignIntelligence about their organization’s focus and how we can all make a difference in designing a future that protects our planet’s living species.


December 3, 2019 |  Jonathan Salk and David Dewane
Nearly 40 years ago, Jonas Salk and his son Jonathan wrote a book about the transition from centuries of population growth to population equilibrium and the impact that such a change would have on society, global interdependence, and the environment and its resources. Recently, Jonathan and David Dewane have updated the book, called “A New Reality,” to examine how all of us can have a role in ushering in the next epoch. The two men spoke with DesignIntelligence about their adaptation and the continued relevance of population issues in today’s world.


November 26, 2019 | Joël Onorato
As people around the world increasingly question our impact on and relationship to the physical environment, so too should those who design how we live and work within it. With thoughtful planning, collective efforts and careful attention to the life cycle of materials, sustainability in the A/E/C industry could be closer than we think.


November 19, 2019 | Dave Gilmore
A curiosity of sorts is in the natural behavior of people placed into leadership when neither their skillset nor experience warrants the placement. Over the past 5+ years I’ve been witness to multiple misplacements into senior leadership roles only to see their organizations swirl into a choreography of confusion and misaligned activities.


November 12, 2019 | Dave Gilmore
Over the past twenty-nine years, I’ve been an intentional observer, writer and speaker regarding leadership. The journey has taken me to large and small places, large and small personalities, and large and small thinkers.


October 22, 2019 | Dick Thomas
The need for great architecture has never been more urgent, the challenge to creating it never more complex. At SHP we believe our mission is informed by three things: design, research and advocacy. For most of us, the value of design is where we were born. Research underpins the way we solve problems. Advocacy is the new kid on the block...


August 27, 2019 | Roberta Kowalishin
Our clients hire us for creativity and ideas that improve the way people work, live, and interact. Design decisions affect every component of the environments we invent through the creative process, whether it’s the massing of a building, the façade, the landscape, the interior, the overall structure the mechanical or electrical energy...


June 18, 2019 | Jesse Devitte
As a venture capitalist, I believe creating a more sustainable environment is an investment opportunity that is not only profitable, but necessary for our future. Our physical world is under increasing pressure, and not living sustainably now will perpetuate future problems.


May 28, 2019 | Ray Daddazio
Thornton Tomasetti is a 1,500-person E/A firm with the audacious goal to be the global driver of change and innovation in our industry. To accomplish this, we need to be ambidextrous. What that means is we need to focus on our current business and results while at the same time, make relevant bets to insure our future.


May 16, 2019 | Jim Cramer
2019 marks the 25th Anniversary of the Design Futures Council! Over the years, the DFC has grown a very strong legacy of leadership and transformational change. DFC’s leadership in key trends includes sustainable design, technology, process innovation, management and design, and international practice...


May 9, 2019 | Dave Gilmore
2019 is the 25th Anniversary of DesignIntelligence/Design Futures Council. To celebrate this milestone, we wanted to honor Jim Cramer, the organization’s founder, and Dave Gilmore, the organization’s president and CEO. In this piece, we’re talking with Dave about what drew him to DesignIntelligence, how he got involved, his vision for the...


September 27, 2017 | James Patten
The rapid development of Internet of Things (IoT) technologies is propelling us toward a world where an ever-increasing amount of our experiences are mediated by digital interactivity. As this trend continues, the task of designing our built environment will be as much about designing the interactive experiences that happen in that space as it will be about form, program, materiality and so on. The fields of interaction design and architecture will become one and the same, and we’ll need to work across disciplines and cultivate new skill sets to design new buildings.


September 25, 2017 | Phil Harrison
These thoughts derive from a presentation I delivered a few years ago at the Design Futures Council Leadership Summit on Sustainable Design.
Are design firms doing enough to deliver on the promise of sustainability?
Is our industry losing its momentum in advancing the state of the art of sustainable design?
Will we ever meet the goals of the 2030 Challenge? What is the role of leaders to help overcome these challenges?
In answer to the last question, I propose that there are nine characteristics of leadership necessary to achieve serious advances in environmental performance for our built environment.


September 19, 2017 | Patrick Thibaudeau
Think about this for a moment. When the kindergarten students of 2017 are college freshmen in 2030, what will the world be like? Will they have a bright, clean energy well and a health-focused world? Will we have done anything substantially different so that they have a better future?


September 5, 2017 | Scott Simpson
Every design firm suffers from the illusion that it is unique. While each one certainly has distinguishing characteristics, there are far more similarities than differences.


August 29, 2017 | Carl Roehling and Troy Thompson
Editor’s note: Leadership transition/succession is one of the most important issues facing firms today. This article is the first of a two-part series on succession planning.

SmithGroupJJR recently completed a successful transition of the firm’s senior leadership. Two key participants in that process tell the story of how they executed the smoothest transition in the firm’s storied history.


August 23, 2017 | Julian Anderson
As any student of history knows, the concept of sustainability is not new. It has been practiced in agriculture and forestry as far back as 6000 BC, when it was recognized that the success of future harvests was dependent upon crop rotation.


August 9, 2017 | Lois Vitt Sale
The practice of sustainability has been built upon relativity in measuring, managing, and making improvements to the status quo. In large measure, the practice of sustainability is influenced by both local and federal policy environments as well as by market and economic forces.


June 29, 2017 | Jim Cramer
We all know that the pace of change is exponentially faster than it has ever been. This is not necessarily a bad thing. Yet it can confuse and cause all sorts of misunderstandings. Sometimes the speed of change ironically leads to management paralysis. This paralysis develops in some people an intellectual or behavioral hesitation to embrace change. It is what keeps struggling organizations on the lower end of the value delivery curve.


June 20, 2017 | Carl Ganter
When we look back at the water planet—that most famous picture taken by Apollo 8 astronauts from the moon—we see beautiful, pristine blue, with swirling white clouds of vapor and massive caps of ice. And the first thing we seek when we look to the stars is for other circles of blue like us. A rare planet in the “Goldilocks zone” that has water … and maybe life. Perhaps Proxima Centauri.nasa-53883... But Houston, we have a problem.


June 14, 2017 | Bob Fisher
It is easy to believe that complex buying decisions are made primarily on reason, facts and numbers. However, evidence shows decision-making is far more complex. One can make a compelling case that in the end, emotions play a larger role than reason in business-to-business purchasing contexts. Such insights change the way that A/E/C firms should approach their brand-building and integrated marketing efforts.


June 6, 2017 | Barbara Bryson
Eric Cesal was frustrated when he graduated from architecture school in the winter of 2008, the year the financial world and architecture world came apart. In his book, Down Detour Road: An Architect in Search of Practice (2010), Eric observed that architects were among the hardest hit and as a new addition to the profession