What is the future of the architecture profession? Emerging professional Christopher Chan, AIA, LEED AP, design director at Gensler

, Shanghai, responds.

In the last 10 to 15 years, we have witnessed the greatest technological advances our field has ever experienced. We’ve seen drawing in the studio transform from graphite on vellum and ink rapidographs on Mylar to advanced 3D rendering visualization and building information modeling. Today, many of the latest technologies are being combined in new and revolutionary ways that truly change the way design and construction happen. Applying these technologies, whether alone or in combination, is a critical component in meeting modern design challenges as well as exceeding governmental standards of sustainability.

As a profession, we have matured and rallied around the central cause of sustainability. While this is a huge leap forward from even 10 years ago, at times it seems that too many so-called “sustainable” projects are narrowly focused on checking items off lists, rather than placing the project itself in a broader strategic context. Strategic sustainability needs to start by working with government agencies, utility companies, clients, and other stakeholders to rethink the way we plan our cities and target our projected energy usage.

We often talk about sustainability in terms of reducing a project’s carbon footprint or reducing a project’s reliance on the municipal utility infrastructure. In a larger context, we need to be thinking about how projects regionally are working together (or against) these same goals.

Today’s economy is global. Countries are linked through increasing exchanges of goods and services, and it is obvious that this growing interaction encourages greater strategic collaboration. For me personally, it comes down to effective communication. I am in constant touch with colleagues in various offices either in person, over the phone, or electronically. Being in touch is critically important to being able to have resources at your fingertips. Even Gensler’s smallest offices have the reach of the whole firm. As told to William Richards.

To hear from more architects about the future of the profession, and to contribute your own voice, visit architectmagazine.com/AIA.