Magnitude of Design Through the Lens of Lifecycle Awareness

Architecture and design are often judged by their immediate impact, such as functionality, aesthetics, and user experience. However, a more comprehensive metric exists, awareness of a building’s entire lifecycle. As depicted in the accompanying diagram, the further one moves from a building’s core purpose, the greater the impact.

Lifecycle Stages:

-3) Resources: Choice of materials, considering environmental and ethical impacts.

-2) Processing: Transformation of raw materials into usable forms.

-1) Logistics: Transportation and supply chain management.

0) Core Purpose: Immediate function, aesthetics, and user experience.

1) Energy and Maintenance: Long-term costs and sustainability of the building’s operation.

2) Waste Handling: Removal, segregation, and transportation of materials during demolition.

3) Disposal: Final destination of materials or recycling potential.

An architect focusing solely on the building’s core purpose only fulfills the most basic role. The more stages the architect engages in, the greater their impact and relevance in the architectural field. Overlooking these ‘invisible’ stages can lead to missed opportunities for sustainability and long-term efficacy. Those who extend their concern beyond immediate function to these often-overlooked stages are the ones who define the future of architecture.

Jacob Goldman is the Founder and Principal at BEAM Architects with over 15 years of experience creating client-focused, user-centric, contractor-friendly, and community-conscious designs.

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