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The Tilt-Wall System and Commodity Architecture

September 20, 2018 from 4:00pm to 5:00pm Central Standard Time

Dallas Ballroom BC

Jeffrey Brown, FAIA, FTCA

Unlike contractors and developers in whose professions there is a very close alignment of the business and the professional sides of their industry, architecture is literally coming apart at the seams between the professional side that attempts to lead the discourse of what architecture is and does without any real interest in the everyday ongoing practice of architecture as a business. That imbalance is being corrected. Today, the marketplace is forcing architects to follow developers and contractors into turnkey delivery arrangements (CMAR, Design Build, Negotiated) where the architect is not directly contracted to what is at least putatively the client.

This is a business-like invasion of a time-honored artistic arrangement which architects as a whole do not like due to the loss of relationship and thus control, via commodification, of the architect to the client. And interestingly there are many kinds of buildings that “commoditize” readily.

There are many markets in this country where the thought of constructing a big-box industrial building out of anything other than tilt wall is unheard of. Said differently block and brick has effectively been superseded by tilt wall as a cost-effective method for big-box building programs in nearly all markets. There are some markets where you can say the same for non-high-rise code multistory office buildings. In those markets, tilt wall again aligns harmonically with a commodity building type. It should not go without saying that it does so with a high potential for formal innovation into the bargain.  The obvious extension of this observation, of this unique phenomenon, becomes what other building types are sliding towards commodity status - and thus possibly colliding into tilt wall technology? (think schools….) And what non-commodity building types are being pressured economically to perform like commodity types from a cost and prospectus orientation? (think your local community center….) Are they also destined to meet tilt wall as approach to balancing cost and FORM?