by Linda G. Miller
After his opening day keynote address, Daniel H. Pink became a hot topic of conversation throughout the convention. Pink is a Washington, DC-based, New York Times bestselling author of four books about the changing world of work. His book, A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future (Riverhead Trade, 2006), which explains the rise of right brain thinking in modern economies, was completely sold out before the end of the convention.
According to Pink, the era of left brain dominance, and the Information Age that was born out of it, are giving way to a new world in which right brain qualities — such as inventiveness and empathy — predominate. Routine work is being outsourced offshore, and software has replaced many functions that were performed by accountants and lawyers in the past. “In the future,” said Pink, “people who can integrate right and left [brain functions] will flourish.”
How does this right brain/left brain talk pertain to architects and “Design for the New Decade,” the theme of this year’s convention? “To be in this business,” said Pink, “you must be literate in design. The future will be sharply influenced by the role of right brain thinking and right brain thinkers. Architects must be able to focus on the real challenges of affordable housing, better schools, and public buildings. Of equal importance, they need to have the capability to verbalize them to the general public.” Moderator Susan Szenasy, Hon. AIANY, Hon. ASLA, editor-in-chief of Metropolis, elaborated: “The story of architecture is a human story. You can speak your priestly language to each other, but shouldn’t to the average person.”
For guidance, Pink recommended that architects clarify their message. Rather than trying to accomplish too many things at once, which often results in muddled communication, he referenced Clare Booth Luce’s question to President Kennedy: “What is your sentence?” Design makes architects relevant and, indeed, essential in the new decade. The goal is to not lose the depth of meaning in the translation.