How the Digital/Physical Revolution is Changing Lives – and Lifestyles


To say that the twin disrupters of COVID-19 and social unrest have forever changed the world is akin to proclaiming that the Taj Mahal is an architectural masterpiece. Tell us something we don’t know, right?

OK. How about the real probability that in the “near future,” motorists will be able to take naps while they drive? Or that fans will be able to “attend” and participate in live sporting events just as if they were there without ever leaving their couches. Or that free WiFi connections will be available to anyone at any time no matter where they might happen to live, work, play or learn.

Those changes and many others are part of the rising digital experience wave that is transforming virtually every aspect of our lives. Some of the changes will be jaw-dropping. Others will be barely noticeable. The best will combine to make a healthier, more resilient and more equitable world.

As architects, designers and engineers we will have a substantial role in this 21st Century revolution. The worldwide pandemic and protests pushed us to change much faster than we anticipated. We learned to work outside our offices by leveraging digital communication, forever changing our offices, homes and the definition of “workplace.”

Those changes and many others are part of the rising digital experience wave that is transforming virtually every aspect of our lives. Some of the changes will be jaw-dropping. Others will be barely noticeable. The best will combine to make a healthier, more resilient and more equitable world.

Our children and their schoolteachers and administrators transitioned from in-person to remote learning, which has transformed our schools and our homes. The pandemic tested our hospital capacity so we turned convention center and hotels into temporary health care centers.
These and other changes showed us that as we move forward, every building must have a physical footprint and a digital cloudprint, and the two are irrevocably intertwined.

With that thought in mind, we must design innovative, appealing spaces and places that allow for a seamless transition from the physical to the digital realm. And we must understand that future disruptions — whether environmental, social or economic — will require us to maintain flexibility in our physical and digital worlds to withstand unforeseen changes.

Our HKS teams are doing just that. And on these pages, you will read, see and learn about our various thought leadership approaches to improving the digital experience for all of our stakeholders.

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