Mic Patterson

Mic Patterson

Thursday, November 14th, 7:00 – 9:30pm

The Industrial Design of Architecture:
Innovating Towards a Sustainable Built Environment

In The Duncan Anderson Design Department Gallery at California State University, Long Beach

As a designer, researcher, educator, futurist, author, photographer, and entrepreneur, Mic Patterson has worked at the interface of product design and architecture throughout his entire career. While claimed by neither, his work manages to bridge the two disciplines through a methodology of creative problem solving that emphasizes 3D work process, and is deeply rooted in the study of materials and manufacturing processes. His professional and academic work focuses on advanced façade technology, structural glass facades, and sustainable building practices. He is passionate in his regard for the building skin as a unique nexus of demands both visual and performative. As a practitioner, he pioneered the introduction of structural glass façade technology in the US in the 1990s, contributing into the new millennium with the implementation of a diverse body of novel applications, including cable trusses, cable nets and grid shells. As a researcher, his investigation of building façade retrofit and exploration of sustainable development are ongoing. Teaching, authoring, and lecturing internationally, Patterson has become a recognized thought leader in innovation, sustainability, and building façade technology.

Most recently, Patterson participated in the establishment of the Advanced Technology Studio of Enclos where he works as the Vice President of Strategic Development, dividing his time between the Los Angeles and New York City Studios. Enclos is a leading national specialty façade contractor, and the Studio is its dedicated think-tank with the mission of anticipating and realizing the future of the building skin. He is a co-founder of the popular Façade Tectonics Journal and conference series, and of the Facades+ conference series. Patterson is a PhD candidate in the School of Architecture at the University of Southern California with a research focus on sustainable façade renovation practices. He is the author of Structural Glass Facades and Enclosures.

His Philosophy
Each passing day brings more people, scarcer resources, spreading environmental degradation, escalating impacts of climate change, increasing economic disparity, and other growing concerns that threaten our planetary civilization. Only relatively recently have we come to recognize the significant contributory factors presented by the building sector. Buildings consume nearly half of all energy consumed in the U.S., as much as the transportation and industrial sectors combined, and produce nearly half of all greenhouse gas emissions. They also consume 75 percent of all electricity. And it’s not all about energy; buildings consume enormous resources with significant environmental impacts throughout their lifespan. It is clear that the built environment is key to achieving sustainability at every level, from the building to the community, region, nation, and ultimately the planet. Current estimates indicate that we are overshooting the planet’s carrying capacity by roughly 50 percent; it would take 1.5 earths to support current levels of global consumption. If the global population consumed at the same rate that we do in the U.S. it would take 5 earths to support us. The uncorrected overshoot of any system is inevitably followed by collapse. The White House and other organizations–such as the 2030 Challenge–have established appropriately aggressive goals for transforming the building sector, but little progress is being made. Green building practices, high-performance buildings, sustainable development, and the urgent need for innovation, are among the responsive concepts whose meaning has been clouded in the swell of sustaina-babble double-speak greenwash instigated by vested interests and perpetuated by ignorance.

So what has any of this to do with design? Everything! The only remaining pathway to a sustainable built environment is through unprecedented innovation, a clarion call to all designers. This lecture explores the challenging context of the commercial building sector, the importance of the building skin, the metrics of sustainability, the meaning of high-performance, the opportunity (and threat) presented by building façade renovation, and the critical role of innovation as an implementation strategy. Current trends in building façade design are reviewed. Implementation methodologies characteristic of architectural design process are juxtaposed with those of industrial design in a search for how process improvements can be brought to bear in transforming the built environment through sustainable development.

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