California Architect Blends Technology with Buildings to Tell a Story

Incorporating tech into projects can help create a unique and immersive experience. 

Good architecture is not just about creating an attractive building, but also an experience. And, technology is becoming increasingly important in crafting that feeling.

Mike Malinowski, the president of Applied Architecture in Sacramento, CA, now has tech at the front of his mind for all his projects.

“We have to, otherwise our business would be dead in five years,” Malinowski says. “The reality is, with the increasing interest in technology, if we weren’t moving along with our customers in the market, we might as well throw in the towel and close the doors.” 

He says that as customers become more aware of the technology available to them, there are increasing requests for more tech options to be included. So, he says it’s important to find ways to stay up on the latest products and how to take advantage of their characteristics in the finished design.

Featuring Tech in a Design 

Malinowski says it can be advantageous to combine technology with the setting of the building when designing a concept. For instance, Sacramento is known for its street trees, and Malinowski uses that for inspiration.

“People are looking for immersive experiences and not just going to the movie theater, but places where they’re going to live and shop and work, and we’re interested in creating those kind of environments,” Malinowski says.

Sound and lighting tech will help create the right experience at the Q Art Lofts.
Sound and lighting tech will help create the right experience at the Q Art Lofts.

In one project he is just beginning called the Q Art Lofts, he is going to utilize technology to fulfill that vision, incorporating some natural lighting and sound effects with other sources he describes as more mysterious.

“It’s going to be something where I’m going to take that simple experience of after you parked your car and you’re walking to your unit, and I’m going to make it something where it’s really going to resonate with people,” says Malinowski. “They may not even notice it right away, but they’re going to just feel like this is an incredible place to live, unlike any place I’ve ever lived before. And, that immersive experience, technology will help me achieve that.”

Telling a Story for Everyone 

That bigger picture is all a part of Malinowski’s overarching goal, blending the physical environment with the cultural one. He says it’s important to target residents who are reflective of the people who want to live in that neighborhood.

Not only does the technology help with part of that, but so does the design itself. For this particular project, he is using cross-laminated timber in a way that’s expressive and coupling it with interesting materials like perforated metal.

“If you fail to tell a story with the design, you’ve missed half the opportunity, and we try to make sure when the design is completed, the story isn’t just that a few people would know, but hopefully it reads loud and clear to everyone,” Malinowski says. 

And, he believes technology is becoming a key part of telling that story.