Saturday, August 27, 2011

Ten Principles for Design Excellence

The 2011 AIA-Southwestern Oregon People's Choice Awards display (photo by me)

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’re probably aware that the 2011 edition of the Eugene Celebration is underway this weekend. This marks the 22nd year that the American Institute of Architects – Southwestern Oregon Chapter has presented its People’s Choice Awards as part of Eugene's supersized block party. AIA-SWO is proud once again to showcase the work of local architects, landscape architects, and related design professionals.

As always, the program shines a spotlight on design excellence and demonstrates how architects enhance and add value to our built environment. If you haven’t already checked out this year’s display, hurry now to the Oveissi & Co. showroom at Broadway & Willamette in downtown Eugene and cast your votes!

As long as we’re on the topic of design excellence, this year’s People’s Choice exhibit provided AIA-SWO's Design Excellence Committee the opportunity to roll out its Ten Principles for Design Excellence. The list is the foundation of the Design Excellence Committee’s efforts to raise public appreciation of the importance of good design. The committee (led by 2010 AIA-SWO president Michael Fifield) envisions municipalities, developers, builders, community groups—the entire spectrum of those who influence and shape our built environment—embracing and applying the ten principles in their work.

The Ten Principles for Design Excellence are:

1. START WITH THE ESSENCE - The purpose of the project is clearly defined with a thorough understanding of the essence and/or uniqueness of the project.

2. MEET THE UNIQUE NEEDS - Design intentions to address the uniqueness of the project are stated in a clear and concise manner and are intended to meet the needs of the client and building users.

3. SYNTHESIZE YOUR SOLUTIONS - Design solutions are translated appropriately and integrate building components/elements in a synthesized and comprehensive manner and not simply as a checklist of issues.

4. THINK BEYOND BORDERS - The design recognizes not only immediate site conditions, but also the context, both physical and social/cultural, now and in the future.

5. COUNT COSTS, CREATE COMMUNITY - The design is sustainable, both in terms of all energy-related issues, but also sustainability issues associated with community. It considers life-cycle costs of energy use, maintenance, and the embodied energy of materials and labor.

6. RESPOND TO NATURE - The design responds to natural conditions of sunlight, wind, noise, soils and slope, existing vegetation, animal and bird habitats, views, drainage and disposal of stormwater and sanitary sewage, site access, etc.

7. MULTIPLY ACCESS MODES - The design encourages and promotes alternative modes of transportation (e.g., bike, public transportation, walkability).

8. PLAN FOR THE FUTURE - The design considers issues of expansion, flexibility, change in use, alterations, deconstruction considerations and modernization.

9. KEEP YOUR PROMISES - The design has a well-considered budget and schedule.

10. ADD BEAUTY - The design is attractive in its overall appearance, and is considered a positive addition to the community, now and into the future.

The People's Choice display, hosted by Oveissi & Co. (photo by me)

By visiting the 2011 People’s Choice display you will not only view outstanding work produced by local architects and landscape architects but also receive a ready-made design toolkit. Take the Ten Principles for Design Excellence to heart. Apply them in your work and contribute to the betterment of our buildings, places, and communities.
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