Welcome to the 'Webolution,' Architects Told

Welcome to the 'Webolution,' Architects Told

Philadelphia Architects and designers, like other business professionals and consumers, are witnessing the onset of an Internet revolution that will eventually make the industrial revolution "pale in significance," a leading futurist and author told architects here.

Addressing several hundred architects and construction industry professionals at the third Architects Technology Summit, Frank Feather said the design industry is in the midst of a "webolution" driven by an Internet economy "reversing everything the industrial revolution put into place.

"All of life and commerce is converging on the Web," Feather told attendees of the conference, hosted by the CMD Group, a leading source of construction market data, and the Greenway Group, a top consulting firm.

The futurist rattled off a volley of statistics, including the fact that use of the Internet has become the fastest uptake of technology by households in our history including the telephone and the television. "Computer chip speeds double every 18 months, a new personal computer is turned on in the U.S. every two seconds and a new cell phone is activated every second," Feather said.

"By 2004, there will be 1 billion active cell phones, half of those with Web access.

"We're going wireless," he added. "Broadband will be abundant and free. The Internet will always be on. People will be conducting commerce in their automobiles. E-mail will be read out to you. It's very clearly a different world."

The implications for architects, designers and related construction industry professionals are vast, Feather commented, adding that architects must now "design at the speed of thought."

Architects and designers must learn to dramatically "slash design-to-completion time," Feather advised. "Become digitally competitive. Use your 'info-structure' as a vehicle for just-in-time work, and to speed the bidding process. Eliminate paper, and use multi-media 3-D design models for compelling presentations and 'wow effect.' Use videos, use simulations."

Feather also advised conference attendees not to build anything that isn't "smart" meaning, 
any project that doesn't contain the latest technologies in every system, and allow for easy upgrades in the future.

"Buildings are no longer structures, but mediums that need to have flexibility built in," he said.
Most importantly, Feather encouraged business owners to rethink their roles in companies. "CEO now means Chief E-Commerce Officer," he told the group. "You cannot delegate this function," he said. "It must be driven from the top."