This View of Life is pleased to present our newest special publication “Constructing Our Niches: The Application of Evolutionary Theory to the Architecture, Engineering, and Construction (AEC) Industry” by Marcel J. Harmon of BranchPattern

Our built environments represent a major human phenotypic adaptation, part of our collective cultural toolkit for adapting to the world around us. But because they form a major part of the environmental contexts we live, play and work within, and because their construction and operations have such a global impact, they also shape humanity’s ongoing evolution as well as that of other species on the planet. The architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) industry has the ability to mindfully orchestrate the direction our built environments push us in with regards to climate change,occupant wellbeing and the evolution of life on this planet. But it requires we construct our “niches” in a manner that consistently provides environments aligned with our individual and group level needs, including long term needs associated with social stability and environmental sustainability. Doing so requires an understanding of how our evolutionary past has shaped our physiological, psychological, and social/cultural needs with respect to the built environment. It also requires an understanding of how we can guide the decision-making process during design and construction to avoid the domination of short term, annual drivers like the profit margins of a smaller group of people. This “Constructing Our Niches” publication outlines how deliberately operating within an evolutionary theoretical framework would better position the industry to make all of this happen.

Download your copy here >> 

Published On: September 12, 2018

Marcel J. Harmon

Marcel J. Harmon

Marcel J. Harmon, a licensed professional engineer and anthropologist, received his Ph.D. in Anthropology from the University of New Mexico. He currently co-leads the Research & Development team at BranchPattern, a building consultancy dedicated to improving life through better built environments. The primary mission of the team is to provide a research/evidence-based approach for aligning design intent with occupant and organizational needs. Over the years Marcel’s academic and professional focus have included applications of evolutionary theory to understanding past and contemporary societies and the reciprocal relationships between people and their built environments. In his current role, Marcel leads research projects designed to provide insights relative to specific client questions. He engages building occupants, gathering their stories and personal narratives, to ensure that projects better account for occupant’s wants and needs. He also quantifies the built environment’s impact on occupant productivity/performance and health, as well as the occupant’s impact on building performance. Marcel uses this understanding to inform on the process from early programming through post occupancy evaluations, and encourage longer term, prosocial decision making during the design/construction process.


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