As the St. Louis based Forum Studio looks forward to 2014, its president, Chris Cedergreen contemplates the future of design. His approach to a diverse range of high-profile architecture and design projects, among them the Express Scripts and Flour Corporation headquarters, is passionate and nuanced. StoryTrack CEO, Lori Dowd, sat down for a conversation with Cedergreen.
StoryTrack: What will be the defining issues for the office buildings of the future?
Chris Cedergreen: Buildings have to be designed for the future so they have a future. The design must actually anticipate change because it’s inevitable, and arriving at bullet train speed. Office space needs to be very flexible, almost laboratory like space. As organizations return to profitability and growth, they want to control costs but they don’t want to sacrifice efficiency and creativity.
ST: In your experience, what is the design process driven by?
CC: The design process is ultimately driven by the people that are going to use the space. How can we affect people’s lives in a very positive way. It’s the enhancement of our built environment and the natural environment. How we combine those two and make the experience of life more positive.
ST: You’ve talked about this idea of “invisible architecture,” can you describe this?
CC: Invisible architecture is the way the design influences what you feel in a space or in the spaces in-between. What matters most is what transcends the workspace: productivity, interaction, collaboration, creativity, innovation.
ST: One of the hallmarks of your work is this idea of integration. You must have a finely honed sense of collaboration.
CC: It’s very interesting—we have designers, planners, architects, engineers and builders—which creates this phenomenal platform to have this cross integration of ideas and thoughts. An environment where we can actually test ideas. We can innovate and explore new ways to design and build buildings. For instance, how can the component pieces be done differently, more effectively and create greater value for our clients. It’s about operating from a much more innovative platform than continuing to do things the same way they’ve been done in the past.
ST: What’s next?
CC: One of our latest projects is the Zirve University Hospital in Turkey. The master plan calls for a campus that integrates patient care, research, hospitality and residential components. The campus is intended to foster collaboration between clinicians and researchers and facilitate the development of innovative treatments in neuroscience and organ transplantation. It’s very exciting project.
Chris Cedergreen, AIA, is President & Senior Principal of Forum Studio