Believe it or not, trucks and urban buildings have a lot in common: both are designed to stand the test of time, containing surfaces and features to create purpose and capability, and both have evolved to meet the demands of a changing world. To highlight parallel design trends between the iconic buildings and the powerful, utilitarian Ford F-Series trucks used to help build them, Ford and the American Institute of Architects New York recently hosted a private gathering and panel discussion titled, “Design with a Purpose: Built Tough”.
Initially introduced in 1948, Ford F-Series trucks have steadily progressed over the years to deliver more of pretty much everything: technology, utility, and capacity. The F-Series trucks now use new materials such as high-strength steel to enhance durability and have added new features such as improved braking systems and productivity screens that display fuel economy and towing information to improve the user experience while getting work done.
Similarly, advancements in architecture research and technology have resulted in new designs that improve living and working conditions.
Just as F-Series trucks have become associated with endurance, power, and strength, so have some New York buildings become symbols of the city. Among other things, these buildings (as well as Ford trucks) convey authority while blending into the environment to which they belong.
Not surprisingly, users of both trucks and urban buildings expect functionality, safety, and long-term durability of the items, both of which are designed to last. Take, for instance, New York’s Empire State Building. The landmark has towered over the city for 82 years while being recognized as the tallest skyscraper in the world for 41 years. Similarly, there are more full-size Ford pickup trucks on the road with at least 250,000 miles — more than any other automaker, according to Ford. In addition, F-Series has been the best-selling vehicle in America for 36 years.
Coincidentally, New York architects and Ford truck designers face similar challenges in creating something that meets the expectations of users and observers. But the relationship between trucks and buildings is, interestingly, deeper than simply answering the needs for durability, functionality, and reliability: both trucks as well as buildings herald economic improvement, with a recovery in home construction translating to strong growth in truck sales as business picks up and contractors invest in their primary work tool. According to Ford, 55% of vehicles used on heavy construction jobs are Ford F-Series Super Duty trucks.
“With trucks, every surface and feature must be crafted for utility while retaining an unmistakable Built Ford Tough look,” said J Mays, Ford group vice president and chief creative officer. “Trucks are similar to architecture, in that a building must clearly convey its use. Once inside the building, its layout needs to be practical, with intuitive features to assist the person occupying it. A truck operates the same way, with intelligent design that can complement the lifestyle of the person driving it.”
Co-hosted by Ford and the American Institute of Architects New York, the panel included the following participants:
- Rick Bell, FAIA, executive director, AIANY
- Erik Churchill, project manager, SHoP Construction
- Steven Colletta, vice president, Sciame Construction Company
- J Mays, group vice president and chief creative officer, design, Ford Motor Company
The full conversation, which explores some thought-provoking topics, can be seen in the video below (you may need to skip a few minutes ahead in the video for it to start):