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We kick off the new year with a very special book review of architect Jonathan Cohen's title, Communication and Design with the Internet: A Guide for Architects, Planners, and Building Professionals. Jonathan's 300 page guide is quite a tour de force of information.

Why an Architect's Words Matter
Content - What's in this Book
Web Skills are Vital
Expanding Your Practice with the Internet
Intranets and Extranets: Case Studies
Closing Comments


When I started reviewing this book I had no idea just how glued I would become to its pages. As the editor of this site I have come across a lot of very interesting, future oriented IT information for AEC. But nowhere have I come across a "single source" of information as dense and interesting as this.

Communication and Design with the Internet: A Guide for Architects, Planners and Building Professionals is just what it says. It's a guide, not a "how to book". If you are interested in learning how to build your own Web site then this isn't your last book. However, it may be your first.

Every architect or AEC professional--and that includes building professionals--should pick up a copy of this book as their first step in understanding how the Internet will eventually, if it hasn't already, begin transforming their business' processes. From cover to cover this book will guide you on that journey.


Why an Architect's Word Matters?

For many AEC professionals, just making the jump to CAD from hand drafting was a major accomplishment, fraught with runaway software costs, temperamental hardware and a mountain of new information to learn. Now comes the jump to the Net.

Are you ready?

It should come then as a major sign of relief, that this book is very different. Different because its author is not just a leading authority on the Net and AEC but a practicing architect of a successful and AIA award-winning firm. In other words, Jonathan's advice to you is based on many of the things that have transformed his practice—and others like it—and has helped it to succeed.

Ultimately then, it is success that concerns us, not the down-and-dirty little details of Net technology. And how are you going to figure that out? Blind leaps of faith are respectable (not to mention fiscally brave) but wouldn't it be of value to learn from those who have succeeded first?



Many AEC professionals are rightly skeptical about the benefits of computer technology. That skepticism eventually waned in the last years of the 1990's as it became obvious to everyone that the Internet was revolutionizing our world around us. Sure, you read about 'dot-com' this and 'dot com' that but as an architect, with a successful business, did you really think that it applied to you? Chances are, like many, you were a bit skeptical.


Contents - What's In This Book

Jonathan's book starts off with a very good introduction to the role of communication in society and he begins with a quote from Manuel Castells, The Rise of the Network Society.

" 'The emergence of a new electronic communications system characterized by its global reach, its integration of all communication media, and its potential interactivity is changing and will forever change our culture.' "

Importantly Jonathan reminds us that the Internet is not just an opportunity to better communicate with each other but for 'architects', the "Internet may be the means by which the profession reasserts a central place in the direction of projects by assuming an important new role -- that of project information manager." In many ways this is the central thesis of the book ...and its purpose is to educate the architectural professional, in particular, of the importance of mastering project information...before someone else does.

Chapters Focus Links
Architecture and Communication Background 1,
An Internet Introduction Background 2, 3,
Getting Connected Starting the Net  
Creating Effective Web Sites Starting Sites 4, 5, 6,
Graphics and Multimedia Starting Sites 7, 8,
Web Site Management Starting Sites 9,
Expanding Your Practice with the Internet The Net and Practice 10, 11, 12,
Intranets and Extranets The Net and Practice 13, 14, 15, 16,
City Planning on the Internet The Net and Practice 17, 18,
Participatory Design and Planning The Net and Practice 19,
Islands of Automation Looking Forward 20, 21,
Copyright and Intellectual Property Concerns Looking Forward  
This book as a plethora of great links. We'll explore more of them on the following pages.

To be sure, architects are not the only ones with something to gain or lose in project information control. But the key here is to realize that the opportunities at this point in the digital evolution are still open. While architects and engineers have long been the central point of command in the AEC design-to-building process, their working methods have historically revolved around the control and development of disparate, paper-based documents. The question becomes how will architects (in particular) maintain their role of central control and management of building design information in a future paperless era? And this era is coming upon us quickly.

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