Integrated Overload?

Posted on June 1, 2010

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It may already be too late but let’s agree not to wear out this integrated idea just yet.

I know the media has a hunger for a scoop, and quite possibly an even more voracious appetite for juicy hip jargon. Still, the time-space continuum from buzzword to buzzkill shrinks exponentially as our media outlets multiply socially.

We see it happen in Hollywood, with rock stars, fashion, slang, even baby names. I can almost see Integrated Project Delivery on the cover of Time:  “The IPD Storm.” Immediately everyone scrawls a copycat story and it filters down through life until no one is untouched by the ubiquitous trend. Then it becomes un-cool and the masses revolt against it, quickly crafting and naming the counter-movement.

Our current oversaturation candidate is “green / sustainable”. The words appear everywhere; yet I have a feeling those concepts will be hard to shake off as trends. Also, they possess a certain gravitas and correlation to newness, lifestyle, ecology, the 60s, construction, materiality, energy, enlightened thinking, and progressiveness that is hard to trash—even when being contrary is chic.

But “integration” is vulnerable. A quick internet search turns up thousands of absurd but so-called integrated solutions, like integrated security systems (the Musee d’Art Moderne obviously did not employ this), integrated dishwashers (when normal hot and cold hook-ups just won’t do?) and integrated pest management (because vermin can be pretty sly).

The truth is some building professionals are still in diapers on this IPD concept. If we burn out on it, the baby might be thrown out with the bath water. Given construction’s slow adoption cycle, it may be 2020 when IPD is comfortably in every subcontractor’s lexicon, which is the pop equivalent of your dad utilizing the famously-disconfirming “…Not!” from Wayne’s World fifteen years after the SNL skit.

So there, I just contributed to the hype surfeit myself. At least you can say you heard it here first because, as John Malcovich once so punishingly expressed, “It’s beyond my control.”

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Posted in: Design Zeitgeist