The Future of Community

Clients across this sector are breaking with tradition. The hunt is on for new models and new partners.



Community Redux

When it comes to community, tradition outweighs innovation in the public’s mind. But things are changing. Airports and transit led the way, reinventing terminals and stations around new aircraft and faster trains. Now, others are joining in, invoking change in sometimes radical ways in order to give their missions and mandates new and potent life. The values haven’t changed, but the ethos is strongly future positive.


Aviation & Transportation


Airports take the next step

Next-generation aircraft provide a growth opportunity for large, non-hub airports to offer direct international service, city to city, bypassing existing gateway hubs. They will grow. So will the global mega-hubs, competing head to head as leisure destinations with more than just great connections. Airport terminals will start giving less space to ticketing and more to airside retail and dining. Their arrivals sequence will take place on one level, celebrating the city and connecting directly to transit. While the terminals will be more compact, their revenue-generating spaces will increase. Primed by smart devices, the passenger experience will take cues from retail centers and hotels. Differentiating service levels will be more important to airlines in their airport facilities.

A group of people walking in a large building.
TAKING CUES FROM PLANNERS — San Francisco International Airport, T3 Boarding Area E, San Francisco
With the rise of urban-scaled, amenity-rich “airport cities,” design teams are looking at the ways that city planning precedents can inform new areas of meeting, refuge, and entertainment as they envision the airport of the future.


Education & Culture


Picking up the pace of change

For education and cultural institutions, change is in the air. The sector has its eyes open, drawing inspiration from other sources as it seeks to get greater and better use of its real estate. Looking beyond its core audience is part of this. Education and culture focus on learning as a lifelong activity. Making learning easier and faster to grasp leads to buildings and settings that are more flexible and participatory than in the past. Engaging people in active learning, making, and curating is an added dimension. Supporting innovation and the interdisciplinary programs that give rise to it is more important. While the buildings and settings are being reinvented, they’re still valued as real places that enhance their campuses and communities. The design expectations are high.

A building with a curved roof.
WHERE TOWN MEETS GOWN — ASU College Avenue Commons, Tempe, AZ
College Avenue Commons, designed in collaboration with Architekton, reinforces campus and community connections. Anchoring the building is the Gensler-designed Sun Devil Marketplace, a vibrant, next-generation college bookstore.


Health & Wellness


A healthcare paradigm shift

From providers to consumers, from organizations to individuals, healthcare is in the midst of massive change. Facing price competition for services, the industry is consolidating to share costs and grow revenues. New players are entering the market, including retailers. Demographic disrupters, like retiring Boomers, make older-affluent living and specialty clinics a bigger market. Work-based wellness is moving into the healthcare space. There’s also a move to a consumer model that gives people more choices, looks at health holistically as prevention, not just treatment, and focuses on individuals. A step further, personalized medicine integrates clinical innovations with tailored care delivery. The rise of specialty care facilities reflects this development.

A group of people in a room.
CUSTOM-FIT TREATMENT — Tulsa Cancer Institute, Tulsa, OK
Tulsa Cancer Institute embraces many aspects of personalized medicine—where data-driven risk assessment and genetic testing, combined with improved diagnostic technologies and new therapies, tailor treatment to the individual.


Mission Critical


Meeting a burgeoning need

As organizations move to the Cloud and ordinary people make smart devices integral to their lives, data centers have to keep pace. Modularity makes getting data centers up and running faster and cheaper. Future-proofing is crucial, so flexibility is essential. Changes in technology mean that data centers are both more reliable and efficient, and cheaper and easier to fit with other uses. That’s important because they’re starting to supplant university libraries and R&D facilities. They allow medical centers to go digital and, using supercomputers, do the gene sequencing that cancer therapies demand. Their impact on diagnosis and treatment, and their role in reducing human error, make data centers indispensable. Their design quality is ramping up to fit into these new contexts.

A person walking in a hallway.
ANTICIPATING CHANGE — Riverbed, San Francisco Bay Area
Considering technology’s rate of change, flexibility is key. Next-gen servers have unknown electrical and mechanical infrastructure needs, while power distribution and back-up systems could demand radically different spaces.


Planning & Urban Design


Communities as ecosystems

The movement toward resilience is leading to a new understanding of cities as ecosystems. With that move come new models of how to plan them. When you think of a city as an ecology, questions of inputs and outputs matter. Cities are part of regions, watersheds, climate patterns, and population shifts. Fluctuations and anomalies are in the picture, since resilience depends on anticipating them. As this suggests, planning has to be both more holistic and more agile. The model for planning large-scale development, the communities of the future, is the ecosystem. Nature builds evolving wholes with simple, distributed, flexible parts. Communities can do this, too: achieving long-term resilience by planning their development or continued growth holistically—as part of nature, not apart from it.

A city with a river running through it.
A CAMPUS FOR IDEA EXCHANGE — Makkah Techno Valley, Makkah, Saudi Arabia
Makkah Techno Valley, a technology park envisioned as an urbanized, fully programmed live-work-play development, will be a catalyst for Saudi Arabia’s shift from oil dependence to a more diverse, knowledge-based economy.