If you wish to go quickly, go alone. If you wish to go far, go together. ~ African Proverb
THE CASE FOR INTEGRATIVE DESIGN + DEVELOPMENT
Integrative design and development is a process organized and implemented to produce the best possible outcome of a project, whether a comprehensive master plan, multifamily housing development or single residence, office building, community center, new construction or renovation. By definition this process is collaborative in nature incorporating, where possible, the input of all stakeholders.
In an integrated process, stakeholders work as a collective to understand and develop all aspects of the project. A design can then emerge organically, with the full benefit of everyone’s input; a structural engineer can contribute to the elegance and efficiency of the structure, a mechanical engineer can inform choices that enhance energy efficiency and comfort, a landscape architect and civil engineer can optimize siting, orientation and storm water management, an interior designer can improve the indoor spaces, a materials specialist can source local products, account for embedded energy and monitor environmental compliance standards, a contractor can enhance the constructability of the resulting design, and a cost estimator can ensure that budgets are met.
Depending on the size and complexity of the project, the owner, prospective occupants, members of the community, government officials, facility managers and maintenance staff, and a wide range of specialty consultants may be involved as well. While each expert plays an essential role, in an effective integrated design process, the best ideas often emerge when participants cross the usual boundaries, because their views are not as limited by familiarity with the way things are usually done.
An integrated design team is the modern equivalent of the master builder in pre-industrial societies; a designer-builder who embodied the knowledge of place, of local construction practices, and of the available resources for building construction and operation. With the complexity of modern buildings and the tremendous breadth of knowledge needed to design and build them, what is now needed is both a highly collaborative and multidisciplinary team, and a process designed and managed to achieve goals and objectives.
We believe that effective communication and collaboration are foundational elements in the success of any project and have been promoting an integrative approach for over thirty years. We are skilled in developing program requirements, managing and facilitating process, and maintain core competencies in quality assurance and risk management for all phases of project development from concept through construction and post occupancy.
Buildings matter. And as the built environment affects each and every one of us we feel that it is important to reflect on what exactly it is that we do, and how we do it. There is much press about buildings these days; and much talk about global warming, energy efficiency, air and water quality, and habitat destruction. In all honesty this is nothing new – more pressing, perhaps, but not new. The question now is one of intent; given what we know, or what we presume to be true, what do we do? Simply put, we must do what we can to address all of these issues both for our benefit and for generations to come.
In our profession that means to build the best possible buildings. High performance design and green design are steps forward. Sustainability may be an ultimate goal - a point in time where all systems are in balance. But we can’t get there until we reverse the damage already done. Restorative design can re-build the capacity of local systems and that’s a good thing. But we can still do better. We can foster a process that itself is regenerative; one that engages the entire system of which we are but a part. By involving all stakeholders we can build the capacity of people to embrace an on-going process of learning – that we are all in this together.
We are fortunate to be part of a profession that can contribute to making things better. As architectural, engineering and construction consultants we have assisted hundreds of clients design, construct and maintain thousands of buildings in a variety of environments. We have done so with attention to detail, commitment to quality, and with a dedication to promoting the best interests of all stakeholders. And we can do more.
We can continue to learn and to understand as much as we can the complexities of living systems. We can continue to promote a process that addresses a whole systems approach, and create new guidelines that move us past the boundaries of traditional practice. We can create partnerships and form alliances; we can share what we know and seek to add value to projects in which we are privileged to participate. We embrace the future and all of its challenges, and look forward to the opportunities that lay ahead.
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