Since the 1980s, as the complexity of buildings began to increase (in terms of structural systems, services, energy and technologies), the field of architecture became multi-disciplinary with specializations for each project type, technological expertise or project delivery methods. In addition, there has been an increased separation of the ‘design’ architect from the ‘project’ architect who ensures that the project meets the required standards and deals with matters of liability. The preparatory processes for the design of any large building have become increasingly complicated, and require preliminary studies of such matters as durability, sustainability, quality, money, and compliance with local laws. A large structure can no longer be the design of one person but must be the work of many. Modernism and Postmodernism, have been criticised by some members of the architectural profession, such as Christopher Alexander, who felt that successful architecture was not a personal philosophical or aesthetic pursuit by individualists; rather it had to consider everyday needs of people and use technology to create liveable environments, with the design process being informed by studies of behavioral, environmental, and social sciences.
Environmental sustainability has become a mainstream issue, with profound affect on the architectural profession. Within the past several decades, architects have realized that buildings must take into account their effect upon the environment. Major examples of this can be found in greener roof designs, biodegradable materials,and more attention to a structure’s energy usage. This major shift in architecture has also changed architecture schools to focus more on the environment. Sustainability in architecture was pioneered by Frank Lloyd Wright, in the 1960s by Buckminster Fuller and in the 1970s by architects such as Ian McHarg and Sim Van der Ryn in the US and Brenda and Robert Vale in the UK and New Zealand. There has been an acceleration in the number of buildings which seek to meet green building sustainable design principles. Sustainable practices that were at the core of vernacular architecture increasingly provide inspiration for environmentally and socially sustainable contemporary techniques. The U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) rating system has been instrumental in this. An example of an architecturally innovative green building is the Dynamic Tower which will be powered by wind turbines and solar panels.
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