integrated design

Friday, December 02, 2005

Kieran Timberlake: Refabricating Architecture


The Philadelphia architecture firm Kieran Timberlake is rethinking the way architecture is made. In their 2004 book, Refabricating Architecture, they discuss how they have drawn from the automotive and aerospace industries to learn how to streamline the process of making. Their goal is to re-realize the notion of Master Builder. They criticize the current, segregated model of design, where there primary parties involved (Architect, Contractor, Materials Scientist and Production Engineer) engage in only minimal, hierarchical communication.

"The first act of design in this world beyond the old equilibrium is the redesign of the relations among those responsible for the making of things. The single most devastating consequence of modernism has been the embrace of a process that segregates designers from makers: The architect has been separated from the contractor, and the materials scientist has been isolated from the product engineer."












Thursday, December 01, 2005

Integration Gone Mainstream Green

Integrated design plays a crucial role in sustainable design. Many of the green programs or guidelines such as LEED or Minnesota’s B3 take an integrated design process approach to sustainable development. The B3 outlines an integrated design process:

Integrated Design Process Overview

  • Assemble appropriate stakeholder team Include representation from every discipline that will be involved in the project: Owner's decision-making team, users, occupants, operations and maintenance representatives, at least one representative from the community, and at least one agency "client" or visitor representative. Also include Owner Representative and commissioning agent if applicable. Choose members who can make a commitment through post-occupancy review phase.
  • Establish a Team Roster and Communication Plan outlining who gets copied on what, distributed to all team members. Update each phase and redistribute.
  • Conduct planning/ review workshops at each phase with all team members. The goal is exchange between team members, with broad-based input and understanding of the goals and approaches the project will take.
    - Comprehensive Business Planning Workshop at Agency planning phase
    - Programming Workshop during Predesign Programming
    - Facility Performance Workshop within the first 2-3 weeks of the schematic design phase
  • Convene multi-disciplinary team at least once per design phase for integrated progress review towards guidelines
  • Convene stakeholder team regularly for integrated progress review. Stakeholder team to meet a minimum of once per phase.
  • Convene General Contractor and Sub-contractors for pre-construction kick-off meeting to review the MSBG goals and objectives.
  • Incorporate discussion about the progress toward project outcomes during every construction meeting.
  • Recommended: After occupancy, Facility Operations Manager, Human Resources Manager and others that offer cross disciplinary points of view on Facility Operations shall meet annually to review operation practices, complaints, and building maintenance issues. – Minnesota’s B3 Guidelines http://www.csbr.umn.edu/B3/

The design world of sustainability has taken a very proactive approach to engaging a “larger audience.” Is this a good idea for the profession of design? If so, what role does the designer play? Does the role change at all?

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Integration on a Pendulum

We have come to a point in the profession where we are defining the architect’s importance in today’s society. As architects we all hope that we play an integral role in the development of communities and the built environment. Integration asks the building community to band together through communication and sharing of ideas to provide better built spaces. An idea shared by many as David Kozlowski believes in his article, “When Talk is Cheaper: Integrated Design and Better Buildings”. The article not only describes a need to bring the seemingly different aspects of the building profession together from the very concept of a project, but also the amount of preparation, time, and money needed to bring forth holistic design.

Is this the model we want to define? Integration asks architects to define what we bring to the discussion. Maybe we can exist in the current system by being better advertisers of our own importance. Many developers are creating large scale projects which take a certain measure of design. These developers need architects to provide options for their projects. Pulte Homes for instance develops projects which architects design such as Collaborative Group Architects, INC. They create designs which can be used for different regional development. These architects have the opportunity to explore and enrich the current housing market. Stock Building Supplies has recently been developing many housing projects where a base design is provided but details are interchangeable. An architect could produce a lifetime career of understanding and researching new, affordable, and integrated details for building systems. Granted that the current market doesn’t not just provide these opportunities, so can we sell our services? Instead of waiting for someone to hear our voice, could we approach developers and advertise our importance to the building community?

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Integration Case Study


While discussing integrated design is fun, seeing it is much more fun. Perhaps no where is this more evident than at Oberlin College. David Orr along with William McDonough have reaped the benefits of the Adam Joseph Lewis Environmental Studies Center. The project utilized students, professionals, faculty and community residents to approach the design of the Environmental Studies Center in an unusually holistic manner. Take a look at this concept document, produced early in the design process. Comprehensive projects cannot rise from a design process that is fragmented and incomplete.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Education Leading the Way

Important factors in integrated design are the education and input of users and clients. In the Nov.-Dec. issue of Architecture Minnesota, “Designing EcoHouse”, and Carleton College created a model that shows how many people from diverse backgrounds can facilitate a dialog in architectural design. The college was considering a sustainable, eco friendly residence hall on campus and wanted to find out what question would the project raise. Richard Strong, architect and facilities director at Carleton stated, “At first students resist the idea of sustainable living; some think they’ll have to live in a cave with a candle.” Paramount to the success of the project is committee understanding.


Richard Strong and Gary Wagenbach, director of Carleton’s Environmental Technology Studies program, created a 10 week class open to all students that address sustainable issues and design of an Eco House on campus. The openness and diversity of the students provided a wealth of ideas, but also created communication problems as Heather Beal, author of Designing Eco House states, “What happens when you gather college students form a broad array of academic disciplines; equip them with pencils, sketchpads, reference materials, computers, and a building laboratory; then ask them to design a beautiful, comfortable campus residence that pushes the paradigm of eco-efficient living?” The answer is an understanding of place and people that can come only from the user’s point of view.

The students started this project by learning through books and lectures, by many architects and engineers, what sustainability really means, and where asked to define what is essential for quality living. Through the next couple of years the project asked students to research and build different wall types such as straw bale, rammed earth, and cordwood to determine each wall type’s aesthetic and sustainable qualities. From here sites were defined and tested. In the end students designed an Eco House on campus as they would define as a, “living machine”. The final goal is to propose ideas from this project to the firm LHB, who is designing a 40 unit residence on campus.

Through this project Carleton’s students and faculty took responsibility for understanding what design means for their college and adding their voice to the discussion of architecture. The project brought many people together from many disciplines with little understanding of each other. If a college class of 10 weeks can provide this kind of integration where different strengths form different fields can produce a real, working project, than the design community can use similar design models to create more holistic design.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Conclusions: The evolution of an idea.

Our initial hypothesis for this project may have been a bit rash. We boldly claimed that “the current state of design lacks direction and order” and tried to justify that claim with an oversimplified explanation that, “the relationships between designers and engineers have eroded.” Despite these flaws, our hypothesis did contain an important question that would guide our research, “How do we begin to integrate all design players, including users, back into the design process.”

(Our Initial Hypothesis)
Over time, the relationships between designers and engineers have eroded, leading to a disconnected and inefficient design process. The current state of design lacks direction and order, leading to competition between design groups and conflicting interests with marginal outcomes. How do we begin to integrate all design players, including users, back into the design process?


As we looked at different ideas about, and examples of integrated design, we discovered that the answer to our question lied in mediation. Too much control by any entity within design, including architect is detrimental. Most successful designs occur under the theory that allows for all members of a design process to express their expertise. Mediation involves a wide variety of design players, through the organization of one or several members.

In the examples at Oberlin and Carleton colleges, the role of mediator was played by the owner/user. In each case, dedicated faculty brought together designers, consultants, and end users (students) to collaborate in the early phases of the design process. Many of the design issues were generated through the needs or visions of the users.

In the case of Pulte homes, the architects, Collaborative Group Architects, Inc. were brought in to mediate the interests of the builder, and the issues of regional and site specificity, and local housing market trends.

In Refabricating Architecture, communication technologies are identified as the tools that allow for mediation. They propose that the architect, having a broad, general knowledge about the making of buildings, should use these tools to mediate the interests of consultants, contractors, product engineers, and materials scientists.

What we learned is that the relationship between architect and engineer is not to blame. We learned that there needs to be a way for the expertise of each design party (architects, engineers, and others) to come together in a unified project. Mediation is what allows their ideas to work together, rather than working against each other.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

The Green Roundtable

Check out the post "GreenBuild Session 11: Managing the Integrated Design Process." This piece begins to look at the possible problems with integrating a very diverse group of individuals (designers/owners/engineers/etc) and how to resolve them. The site has a link to register for a conference focused on green-integrated design. http://www.greenroundtable.org/GreenBuild_Managing%20the%20Integrated%20Design%20Process.html