Architecture students are no stranger to the technical dynamics of building construction. But one aspect of architectural design that has fascinated me for a while is the shortsightedness of those in the building trade. When a client approaches a contractor, architect, or engineer to solicit their work on a new building, does the client think "I want this building to stand the test of time" or does he/she think "I just want a good return on my investment". Perhaps these two desires are more closely related than we think-- that the value of a building is equally tied to its ability to endure and its capacity to interpret culture (or perhaps project culture) through contemporary design and construction
With this in mind, I have been enjoying Michael Henry's building diagnostics and monitoring course, in which we explore building pathology and the ways in which time and elements take their toll on the built environment.
I'd like to also suggest that while contemporary building design seems to fall closer to the side of Return on Investment and Speed of Construction, most architecture students receive little to no training about how their building design will perform over of time. Design studios seem to focus almost exclusively on concept and quality of design (with, every so often, a nod to context). But while architecture students most likely imagine that the buildings they are proposing will last forever, there is scant consideration of the corrosive/erosive/decaying dynamics of architecture that inevitably undo the best laid design plans. This small diagram lays out the gap between architecture studio theory (ideal), the theoretically normative place that I believe architecture should seek to design for, and the actual (positive) place that most buildings are built today.