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- May 1, 2015: Vol. 27, Number 5

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The intelligent edifice: New technologies promise to boost building IQs and create architectural ecosystems

by Mike Consol

Think about your office building’s intelligence quotient. It is no Einstein. Do not feel badly; most buildings are well to the left of the bell-shaped intelligence curve.

The commercial structures we inhabit started as little more than a protective shell, separating us from the elements. Concrete block construction gave us strong edifices of limited height and flexibility. Then they started breathing as we incorporated heating and cooling systems to enhance our comfort. When the steel girder came along, our buildings turned from crustaceans into vertebrates and are now capable of reaching far into the sky and withstanding shocks as violent as earthquakes. Much has continued to improve but, in technological terms, compare how little the edifice has advanced IQ-wise when compared with, say, computers, telephones, automobiles and industrial robotics.

Ah, but look forward and take into account the technologies banging on commercial buildings’ doors, and i

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