For the twenty first century building, the need for a departure is no less compelling. But it is not in structure. It is in systems; the mechanical and electrical systems which make buildings - and cities - functional and comfortable more often, for longer periods and in more locations than could even been imagined in the pre industrial world. The challenge is to find the ways to do this without the cost in waste, pollution and environmental degradation which is the cost Industrial Age technology imposes. This requires the continued development of a Post Industrial technology which is better able to provide the same functionality and comfort at competitive cost and without the environmental degradation of its Industrial Age predecessor.


The architecture which should result from this is Environmental Architecture. It incorporates sustainable design, but seeks to do something more than balance human needs with natural systems. Instead, it is based on the principle of entering into the existing stream of natural conditions and deflecting some of it to human purposes, then returning it restored to the main stream. It can be likened to creating a channel parallel to a flowing river, without damming the river itself, using the substance and energy of the water's flow, and returning it downstream at the same velocity and in the same volume as the uninterrupted river. In doing this it seeks new form of expression, derived from a new technological base and a new vision of expression..

Much as Modern Architecture derived its expression from the then new technology if industrialism, this will not happen suddenly. Its apprehension will derive from a retrospective realization long after it has begun. It may occur with what is recognized as a "breakthrough" expression long after the fact, as did its predecessor styles. (Buffington patented the steel frame in 1878. The International Style, which after the early work of the Prairie School in the US and De Stjil in Europe, did not fully deploy until more than forty years later. The steel frame technology was the symbolic "breakthrough" for Modern Architecture. But without the entire complex of new technologies of the industrial age - the elevator, telephone, electric light and so on, all set within the infrastructure of electric power generation and transportation - the emblematic architecture of the twentieth century, the skyscraper, could never have come into being).

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