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DURABLE: Sustainable Material Ecologies, Assemblies, and Cultures

DURABLE is a design imperative to construct sustainable environments that promote not only long life cycles, but also enduring cultural significance. Crucial to a sustainable architecture is the design of buildings that will endure for generations while also constantly adapting to ever-changing cultural needs. This exhibition examines the durability of materials through the lens of built examples of robust architecture that remains useful and valued despite the vicissitudes of time.

DURABLE presents ideas across three domains of durability, Durable Material Ecologies, Durable Material Assemblies, and Durable Material Cultures, with examples drawn from four architectural materials: wood; masonry; steel; and concrete. The following contemporary architectural precedent illustrates each material, revealing innovative technical solutions and a unique architectural expression:

  • Wood: Wood Innovation & Design Center in Prince George, Canada, by Michael Green Architecture
  • Masonry: Haus 2226 in Lustenau, Austria, by Baumschlager Eberle Architekten
  • Steel: United States Courthouse in Salt Lake City, Utah, by Thomas Phifer and Partners
  • Concrete: Research Center ICTA-ICP in Barcelona, Spain, by H Arquitectes + DATAAE.

DURABLE challenges architects, clients, and the general public to consider the lifespan and the global and local impact of buildings by demonstrating how design for durability can shape a sustainable future. DURABLE will demonstrate that to justify the large material, energy, effort, and financial investment to construct a building demands that it lasts a long time. The visual exhibition, the interactive 3D material displays, the public engagement, and the educational outreach offer a broad array of experiences for people of all ages and interests to engage with the cultural and environmental benefits of design that embraces the full material life cycle of architecture.

Exhibition Team
DURABLE is a direct extension of the research conducted by the winning 2017-2019 AIA Latrobe Prize team on “Future-Use Architecture: Design for Persistent Change.” This exhibition aligns with the aspirations of the Latrobe Prize to advance knowledge in the profession and increase public awareness of a broad definition of sustainability, one that creates long-lasting, high-performing, adaptable, and culturally-significant built environments.



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