Technology has fundamentally transformed our world. It is the most profound change to permeate the profession of architecture and design in the last 70 years. As such, it is one of the more powerful tools we have at our disposal. However, the pursuit of innovation for its own sake is antithetical to our beliefs. Technology and research augment our design and delivery process, rather than the reverse. This outlooks springs from an ethos of inquiry and a commitment to delivering the best results for our clients. We are industry leaders in exploring the implementation of cutting-edge tools integrated into a practice, and our projects providing the feedback loop for future solutions.
The EDR Research Fellowship enables talented individuals to explore fundamental questions around the development of better buildings while embedded in a firm committed to excellence in design and performance. They are challenged to focus on a particular area of inquiry, unconstrained by day-to-day project deliverables, but with the opportunity to interact with and affect the course of ongoing work. All of their research has the distinct power to affect, not only our processes, but the way in which we learn and grow as a firm.
Our most recent Fellowship focused on the only commonly used building material made by the sun -- wood. Since trees use sunshine to draw carbon dioxide from the air—converting it into sugar and structure—the act of building with wood can be an act of carbon sequestration, and support architecture’s response to the climate crisis.
Beyond advantages in sequestering carbon, wood is aesthetically beautiful. There are few things more striking in architectural design than large swathes of wood left unadorned—“nature’s fingerprint” embedded. However, not all wood is created equal: harvesting wood from poorly managed forests can result in huge net emissions from mishandled waste and soil loss.
This Fellowship included a deep dive on what makes for “good wood” vs “bad wood,” how architects can use wood in new ways (including mass timber assemblies such as CLT, NLT, and DLT), practical responses to the common challenges faced by wood (termites! water! fire! differential expansion!), and a look ahead to next generation biologically-based low-carbon alternatives to conventional concrete and insulation.
While our Research Fellowship went on a brief hiatus in 2021, we are currently planning to reinstate its mission with a revamped program in the coming year. Stay tuned!