1) Architecture is a meditation on man-made civilization, particularly when you think about spec-writing. When CSI MasterFormat tries to organize building materials and systems into neat, six-digit categories, I wonder about the hubris involved in cataloging all "specialty equipment" in the world, and organizing the world into concrete, metal, and wood/plastics. It's a lot like a giant search engine, composed of all the elements involved in one local geography - like a building, or a build out project, rather than the whole world. This "local search engine" makes me wonder how MasterFormat can adopt and morph into a living document, so we can start to catalog all material and system footprints, long after the building has been handed over to the owner. I wonder how MasterFormat has shaped architect's mindset -- much like how Revit and CAD has "flattened" and standardized built projects, the slow standardization and use of specifications must have also ordered/limited Architect's ways of doing things. I feel like this way of cataloging the world into distinct, BaoHausian materials (Concrete, Metal/Steel, Masonry, Wood/Plastics) has limited innovation. Where does CLT fit into it? What about bio-buildings? I do appreciate codes and standards, because these articles are more in place to catch the corrupt, or the incompetent, practitioner -- but I do wonder how to break these rules.
2) Above all else, our job as architects is to ensure life, safety, and welfare. Meet this base, foundation level, before you even try to talk about "innovation." I don't think this is emphasized enough at school. Design schools train "artists" and "solo celebrities", but honestly the world just needs more competent architects, who can ensure that projects are safe, and people won't perish in fires. This is a very important responsibility, much like a doctor diagnosing a patient, or an engineer building a bridge, or a good sanitation worker. Buildings fail all the time, and things can go wrong very quickly. Honestly, if you can't meet the bare minimum functional requirements, and you cut corners, how can you even dare to reach second- or third- level innovations, and changes? You don't even understand what question you should be asking, let along proposing solutions you hardly understand. I have a lot of respect for the profession in this regard -- that we have to keep people safe. I think having faulty buildings in the 21st century that catches fire is SO 19th century, and it should never happen.
3) Design, Engineering, and Fabrication should be closely integrated. At my job, I love going to site. I love going to see factories and fabrication labs. I love seeing how simple drawings and dimensions transform into something real. I love talking to people on the ground, understanding issues, and finding different perspectives. I feel like once that gap between design and reality grows more and more distant, both design and construction suffer. There's no "feedback loop". I see a lot of that happening at large corporations -- where the connection between the mega-project and the drafter is totally lost, and almost irrelevant. I don't understand nor accept this, because it is completely inhuman, and an extreme byproduct of capitalism/division of labor/economies of scale. Much like micromanaging, or poor/disconnected internal corporate communication -- these inherent disadvantages of large, or old, hierarchical structures. The way to mitigate the worst excesses of extreme specialization is good communication, and more communication. If we deliver tangible products, we should better understand exactly how it is made, where it comes from, and how to maintain it. Connecting concept to execution is the best thing about architecture --- not arguing about paint finishes, or debating about "why something is cool".
4) Economies of Scale drives prices down. It is time to use this power for good. Economies of scale has managed to make things cheaper for more people in the world -- it is one of those magical concepts in capitalism, like compound interest. We did this for cars, food, and electronics. The next big step is to take this amazing concept and actually do something good -- make architecture, development, and housing more accessible to more people than ever before. No one has yet cracked the code in using the pioneering computer technologies and applied it to this impossible-to-solve problem, in this archaic, messy field with too many stakeholders. But the time is now. It won't be software engineers who learn architecture; it will be architects who understanding computer science and fabrication, who bring about this next big wave. Understand the politics and understand the engineering -- and literally revamp the ancient system of permitting, design, documentation, and construction. The time is now.