High-rise architecture was once the symbol of progress to American architecture – proof of economic and technological innovation, it set cities like New York and Chicago apart from other developed urban centers around the globe. The use of new materials evolved into a new expression of transparency and lightness that has transcended until the current times. But now that the aesthetics are not the only factor and health and sustainability are taking the lead, high-rise design is driving towards a new generational change that is transcending time and social context.
Architects have always been the master minds – behind the scenes, authoring every compositional detail from the first draft until completion of construction. Our roles have not changed that much, but the tools and resources that come into play are addressing challenges that were invisible decades ago. Our buildings are not a simple spatial tool to support the existence of humanity, but have inherently become political and cultural sources of change. And where once the United States broke the pattern, American architecture is setting the standards to sustainable growth and development of such master projects over time.
Millennials perceive the space through their values, through what it represents to them. Visual comfort will not be the center of gravity – the new workspace policy will be. Flexibility in residential units that are capable of accommodating any form of family ever possible will be. Connectivity to green spaces and accessibility to public transport will be. Time, culture, society, politics, sustainability – all factored into the new parameters that architecture is reacting to, coming closer to a digital scripting exercise than an actual pictorial scene. The future of our architecture is parametric, and the commercial high-rise is leading the revolution by its influence and scale in the characterization of cities.