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About Kimon G. Onuma, FAIA: A leader in the field of building information modeling (BIM), Mr. Onuma is 2013 Chair of the Technology in Architectural Practice Knowledge Community (TAP). His firm, Onuma, Inc., creates a number of BIM products, including the ONUMA System, which has been used in the award-winning BIMStorm series of online charrettes.
Mr. Onuma authored, "The 21st Century Practitioner," a chapter for the AIA's Report on Integrated Practice, where he describes the future of architecture. He is recognized among his peers as not only having the vision, but the ability to significantly help revolutionize the architectural practice. He brings a global perspective of how architecture impacts the environment.
Kimon appeared in the Convention Connections video series. View the video segment here.
Kimon, you’ve been a presenter at multiple AIA National Conventions. What is the value in presenting?
At the convention presenters do more than just present information—we’re trying to engage and collaborate with the audience.
My education seminars focus on the potential to collaborate in new ways, which enhances our relevance as architects. A key part of that depends on the technology advances that have completely shifted how we can share information and work together.
Given that focus on technology, I’m learning just as much, if not more, from the architects in the seminars. The field is changing so rapidly, and being a presenter is a great opportunity to build new relationships and to have discussions with people who are facing the same issues and to build upon the practices there.
One of the key topics of your education seminars is the impact of technology on practice. What changes do you foresee over the coming years?
One of the sessions I'm having at this year's convention is about the future of architecture.
We're setting the stage by pretending that it's 15 years from now and we’re presenting about the past. We ask questions like, “Well, wasn't it great in 2012 when we started using tablets?”
I love this topic because I'm an architect, but I'm also a technologist. We develop our own software and we’re encountering the term “software architecture.” The networks of relationships and interdependencies when we design buildings and cities have parallels in software.
I think the future will see individuals and companies starting to become software developers. It sounds scary, but it sounded just as scary 15 years ago to think that everyone would be developing Web sites. I think because the tools and the development of software are becoming simpler, they will become a key part of practice.
As chair of the Technology and Architectural Practice Knowledge Community (TAP), what are some other important trends?
The amount of data we face is staggering We are overwhelmed. In the past, 20 years ago, it used to be simpler.
Now, with energy and environmental concerns, and buildings becoming heavier with systems, it’s impossible for any single architect to process all the data and react to what clients and owners want.
There is a very important shift that is happening. Instead of contracting as architects, I think we have to spread out further—not necessarily to do more individually, but to become more specialized and collaborate with other specialists.
With new tools and new technologies emerging, it is getting easier to process a lot of data. You don't have to be a techie anymore—all architects should be leading this shift.
Finally, how does the face-to-face aspect of the convention remain relevant with the continuing advances in online collaboration?
Architects work online a lot. We're always wired. It’s really helped improve the flow of information for our projects. Yet the collaboration that happens at the convention and beyond the convention is a touch point: making the connections in person drives further communication.
What's interesting is that if you collaborate in person with someone, you actually enhance your future online communication. The convention offers so many chances to work with other architects—architects you may never usually meet—and it really helps move the discussion on new ideas and new solutions forward.
A few years ago, Mark
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Kimon G. Onuma FAIA
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