something new—an idea, method, or device. The opposite of synthesis is analysis.
Environmental programs have, for good reasons been dominated by analytical
thinking. Each step in a process has been viewed as a possible source of pollution.
Monitoring is an act of analysis (breaking things apart to see what is wrong).
However, the environmental community is calling for more synthesis, especially
as technologies such as the best available control technologies called for by the
Clean Air Act are gradually being supplanted by risk-reduction approaches. In
other words, emphasis in the 1990s was on the application of control technologies,
but the U.S. Congress wanted to be able to determine what risk remains even
after these controls are put in place. Addressing such residual risks requires green
Thus, the call for innovative pollution control equipment in the twentieth
century has moved to innovations in holistic design. Reducing risks in the first
place harkens to the advice of business guru Peter Drucker, who has noted
that innovation is “change that creates a new dimension of performance.” 8
This ethos is also being expounded by designers such as John Kao, who
suggests that innovation is “the capability of continuously realizing a desired
future state.” 9
Emerging collaboration software tools are creating the potential for powerful
synthesis and integration across technical expertise that has historically remained
segregated until much later in the life of a project's development. This migration
of technical input to earlier phases of the design process holds the opportunity
not only for more complete synthesis but also the promise of innovation in the
way we conceive and shape the built environment. As illustrated in Figure 1.5(a),
the progression from concept to completion would draw from multiple expertise
of the design team from the very early stages of development. The “spine” forms
the path of project delivery in this case and is representative of the progress from
concept to completion as the input from design, technical, and construction ex-
pertise is reflected in the growth of the concept as it evolves. The next generation
of software will allow digital, rapid prototyping of alternative scenarios incorpo-
rating diverse inputs as the model grows with each successive iteration, building
on the preceding cycle of input and providing a frame for continuous integration
and performance improvement.
The nautilus shell [see Fig. 1.5(b)] and sunflower seed patterns provide useful
analogies when describing this new model that bridges concept to completion,
with multiple interlocking spirals representing the continuous iterative process
and integration of multiple dimensions of technical expertise. The spiral pattern
is repeated in nature in many variations, from the rotation of plant stalks to
provide leaves with optimal exposure to sunlight by never occupying the same
position twice, to the spiral growth pattern of a seashell, continuously expanding
and maintaining optimal structural strength (see Fig. 1.6).