2018-2019 Session 6: Trending Now

Date: March 1, 2019

Location: Houston Permitting Center – 1002 Washington Ave, Houston, TX 77002

Led by: Courtney Brinegar, Danny Rigg

Session In-Kind Sponsors: Corgan and Green Building Resource Center

Session Sponsor: Prism

Venue Sponsor: Houston Permit Center




Courtney Brinegar and Danny Rigg led the sixth session of the Christopher Kelley program, “Trending Now”. During the program session at the Houston Permit Center, the session leaders kicked things off by presenting the trends on food consumption in America and how those trends impact the environment.  Individuals from Corgan and Corgan Media Lab provided a presentation, discussion, and hands-on demonstration of the trending technologies of Virtual and Augmented Reality. Next, the session organizers led an open discussion about some of the industry trending topics (offsite construction, automation, and connected devices, social media and public outreach, and 3D printing and Generative Design).  The Program Director of the Houston Green Building Resource Center then gave a very dynamic presentation on what’s trending in terms of energy consumption and Green Building. The session concluded with a tour of the Houston Green Building Resource Center where there are many examples of green building materials and strategies.

In the basement of Houston Permitting Center

Presentation 1: “Trending Now – Food Consumption”

Presented by Courtney Brinegar of Burditt Consultants & Danny Rigg of Rigg Studio

Food Chart
One plant-based meal a day is not only healthy but good for the environment



According to the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, the current American diet is greatly deficient in the intake of vegetables, fruit, dairy, and oils.  The American diet includes an excess of added sugars, saturated fats, and sodium. Food production is the number one consumer of fresh water and the number one cause behind climate change.  One [plant-based] meal a day is not only healthy but good for the environment. Local organizations like Urban Harvest and Finca Tres Robles are making access to plant-based foods in the urban environment more accessible to everyone.  What many people eat is influenced by what is offered and therefore the session organizers went out of there way to arrange for some delicious plant-based food options for this session’s meal offering.

Presentation 2: “Corgan Media Lab – Trending Now Technology”

Presented by Mark Starling, Eric Craft, Nicholas Banks of Corgan and Corgan Media Lab

In recent years, new technologies have been introduced to the design process.  Both virtual and augmented reality are having a large impact on the design and construction process.  Virtual Reality (VR) is stronger for early design, prior to anything being built. Augmented Reality (AR) is a great supplemental tool once construction begins or to observe design ideas in retrofit/renovation scenarios.  The scholars learned about the many hardware offerings available for both VR and AR.

An extremely basic setup can be achieved for just a couple hundred dollars whereas the more advanced systems can cost tens of thousands of dollars.  The good news is that for between $1,500-3,000 all-in (VR program, headset, computer) anyone can have a decent set-up with systems by Google, VIVE, Oculus, etc.  The simple addition of a plug-in like Enscape and a VR headset would allow most architecture firms to implement VR with little training or expense. Using VR, the presenters indicated they can often obtain approvals from clients faster because the client is able to obtain a better sense of scale when in VR.  The presentation concluded with all scholars having the opportunity to try and experience various AR & VR equipment.

Mark interacting with the Microsoft HoloLens, an example of Augmented Reality technology

Presentation 3: “Trending Topics Discussion ”

Presented by Courtney Brinegar of Burditt Consultants & Danny Rigg of Rigg Studio

Session 3The session organizers continued the dialog by presenting a list of trending topics including offsite fabrication, automation, and connected devices, social media and public outreach, and 3D printing and Generative Design.  With a large influx of investment money being given to tech-companies like Katerra and their non-traditional process, the conversation turned toward the future role of architects and became very passionate. How architects will respond and adapt to all these industry disruptors is still to be determined. Several scholars have experience portions of their projects being built partially offsite and then shipped to the job.  The coming of 5G and all things being “connected” will likely influence the built environment in new ways. Social Media and public outreach will continue to be driving forces for motivating the public to demand quality spaces. 3D printing and generative design are at their infancy in terms of impacting the industry and they are certainly technologies to keep an eye on.

Presentation 4: “Trending Now – Green Building”

Presented by Steve Stelzer of the Houston Green Building Resource Center

Steve provided a fast-paced presentation illustrating the current state of affairs when it comes to energy consumption, the environment and ways we can make a difference.  Steve first presented the case and the need for green building. Through lots of data, book references, and examples he illustrated increases in climate, carbon dioxide overload, and top sources of emissions.  The W.A. Parish Coal-burning power plant located just southwest of Houston burns 36,000 tons of coal a day which is enough to fill a 3-mile-long train. It is one of the top 5 dirtiest power plants according to the EPA.  Steve encouraged everyone to do their part in helping the environment by adding more insulation in the building, investing in energy efficiency, influencing others to be active, and talking to your representatives. Steve concluded by sharing Project Drawdown with all the scholars.  Project drawdown provides a list of 100 simple solutions to help reverse global warming.

Session 4
Scholars on a tour of the Green Building Resource Center, lead by Steve Stelzer

“Trending Now – Green Building Resource Center Tour”

The scholars concluded this session by touring the Green Building Resource Center. The resource center helps educate the public about green building and provides the public with an opportunity to see and feel many different materials and solutions.

Conclusion :

The presentations, discussions, demonstrations, and tours in Session 6 (Trending Now) provided participants with insights into the many sources currently influencing and changing their personal lives and the architectural industry.  The session allowed scholars to look to the future and prepare themselves for changes that are occurring or that may be coming. Last, scholars were equipped with information, resources, and tools, to help them and their firms stay on the cutting edge and positively impact the environment around them.


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