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The Drawing Board: Architecture’s Top Trends for 2024

3 min read

What are some of the materials, designs and innovations expected to influence building design this year and beyond?

Building Health

Building Health is paying more attention to the health of buildings is in. “An example of the criteria would be the Well Building Standard. The healthy buildings movement is a global initiative that emphasizes creating indoor environments that promote the health, well-being, and productivity of occupants. It recognizes the significant impact of buildings on human health and aims to integrate design, construction, and operational strategies that enhance indoor air quality, lighting, thermal comfort, acoustics, and overall occupant experience,” said Mary DeLoney Logan with Cromwell Architects. “This movement seeks to address various factors, including ventilation systems, use of sustainable materials and access to natural light, to create spaces that support physical and mental health. Organizations, architects and builders participate in the healthy buildings movement to advance the construction of structures that contribute positively to the overall health of their occupants.”

A rendering of the Alice L. Walton School of Medicine building in Fayetteville, which is currently under construction, has vegetation incorporated into much of the design. (Rendering by OSD and Polk Stanley Wilcox)

Building Vegetation

Turns out, greenery and architecture go hand-in-hand. Adding a little vegetation to a space is said to increase the environmental quality and has social benefits. Plus, vegetation can help with noise pollution. Who doesn’t like a quiet, peaceful work area?

The Arkansas Museum of Fine Arts in Little Rock renewed some of the elements from the previous building. (Madison Ogle)

Embodied Carbon

“This is related to sustainability but involves measuring the energy required for building materials from source to disposal,” Logan said. “Embodied carbon emissions, stemming from the manufacturing, transportation and disposal of construction materials, pose a significant threat to climate goals, especially upfront carbon released before buildings are used. The World Green Building Council warns that upfront carbon will contribute to half of new construction’s entire carbon footprint by 2050 and emphasizes the urgency for immediate action in reducing embodied carbon to meet climate targets and prevent irreversible environmental damage.”

Anthony Timberlands Center for Design and Materials Innovation, University of Arkansas (Renderings by Picture Plane, courtesy of Grafton Architects)

Exposed Mixed Materials

The apartment hunter’s love for exposed brick actually carries over into the architecture world at large. The use of mixed materials, especially when they’re out in the open, is becoming more popular, adding an artistic feel to the design.

The Ledger in downtown Bentonville features a 3,900-foot linear bike path that winds along the glass facade and is billed as the world’s first bikeable office building. (David Yerby)

Glass Facades

Glass facades are a central part of modern architecture. A great way to add natural lighting and create a seamless look, glass focal points add a unique, almost glamorous look to architecture.

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