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What Impending Issue is Most Critical to Designers?

A session at the recent APA National Conference in Chicago gathered together the heads of the major built-environment professional organizations to discuss their unique and shared challenges. One subject was on each head's mind: Water.
April 24, 2013, 10am PDT | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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What is the most critical issue designers don't even know exists? "According to the heads of the major built-environment design organizations, the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA), the American Institute of Architects (AIA), and the American Planning Association (APA), it’s water," says Jared Green, who recaps the Presidents Forum held at the recent APA National Conference.

"Water is going to become increasingly scarce. It’s particularly a problem in the United States as many of the highest growth areas are in parts of the country that are already stressed with water shortages. Worldwide, countries are struggling with diminishing ground water resources and some are even worried about water wars. Mitchell Silver, the outstanding (and unfortunately outgoing) president of APA, said 'water is going to make oil look minor league.'” This was among the critical insights provided at the unique gathering of design profession luminaries that included Mark Focht, FASLA and Jeffrey Potter, FAIA.

Other prominent issues confronting each field:

ASLA: "The focus of the next few years will be pushing for land and water conservation, community parks, a national complete streets program, more federal support for green infrastructure, and benefits for small businesses."

AIA: "Potter said the architecture practice was in a state of transformation. He said the world is struggling with how to create 'place-based knowledge in a digital era'....In this new world, architects are increasingly focused on 'high performance places, public health, and disaster mitigation.'”

APA: "With 40,000 members in 90 countries, APA is also concerned about global issues like climate change, population growth, urbanization, and suburbanization....The future then is about 'comprehensive planning' to ensure communities are more 'adaptable and resilient' to changes, whether they are due to population growth, water shortages, economic change, climate shifts, or natural disasters."

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Published on Wednesday, April 24, 2013 in ASLA The Dirt
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