Futurist, architect and structural engineer Chris Luebkeman, director of the Global Foresight, Research and Innovation team at Arup, a renowned global design, planning, engineering and consulting firm, presented the 2015 Rowlett Lecture, "Apex of Architecture: Designing on a Social Conscience," Oct. 23 at the Annenberg Presidential Conference Center on Texas A&M University’s College Station campus.
The lecture series, which showcases the world’s most prestigious design firms, is hosted annually by the CRS Center for Leadership and Management in the Design and Construction Industry at the Texas A&M College of Architecture.
Throughout his stellar career, Luebkeman has imagined future possibilities while assiduously observing the vicissitudes, great and small, in the trajectory of the architecture, construction and engineering industry.
At Arup, he helps clients identify trends, explore new ideas, consider the future of the built environment and society, and radically rethink the future of their businesses.
He champions proactively embracing the future and creatively shaping what lies ahead, rather than passively accepting whatever default future arrives.
Luebkeman and his multidisciplinary team of engineers, researchers, scientists and consultants developed the “foresight by design” process, which employs innovative design tools and techniques to foster new ideas while engaging clients and stakeholders in meaningful conversations about change.
The group has contributed to numerous Arup projects, including research exploring the future of public, academic and corporate libraries, a publication about the future of transportation, a workshop series examining materials, trends and technologies that may affect the future of the built environment, and many more.
Luebkeman's interest in the built environment blossomed early, propelling him to pursue a multi-faceted education, beginning with engineering and geology degrees from Cornell and Vanderbilt universities, and culminating in a doctorate in architecture from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zurich, a city to which he remains deeply connected.
After earning his doctorate, Leubkeman gained valuable experience, working as protégé of esteemed Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava. He subsequently turned to his other love, education, accepting teaching positions at several prestigious universities, including SFIT in Zurich, the University of Oregon, the Chinese University of Hong Kong and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
While working in education, he founded 2nd Generation Design, an art and architecture consulting firm.
Leubkeman joined Arup in 1999, working as co-director of research and development. In 2001, he formed the Global Foresight and Innovation team which has since evolved into its present form as Research + Foresight + Innovation.
The Rowlett Lecture is named in honor of John Miles Rowlett, former professor of architecture at Texas A&M University, who along with fellow professor William W. Caudill and graduate students Wallie E Scott Jr. and William Peña established the architectural firm CRS. The lecture series was endowed in 1979 through a grant to the Texas Architectural Foundation by CRS Inc. and Mrs. Virginia Rowlett.