Framework for Design Excellence

Inspiring sustainable, resilient, and inclusive design

The world today is facing broad and complex challenges that threaten every aspect of our lives. The architect's call to protect the health, safety, and welfare of the public has a new and broader meaning amid challenges such as increasing climate extremes and social inequity. Architects everywhere must recognize that our profession can harness the power of design to contribute to solutions addressing the most significant needs of our time. Every project can be used as a platform for addressing big problems and providing creative solutions. Every line drawn should be a source of good in the world.

The Framework for Design Excellence represents the defining principles of good design in the 21st century. Comprised of 10 principles and accompanied by searching questions, the Framework seeks to inform progress toward a zero-carbon, equitable, resilient, and healthy built environment. These are to be thoughtfully considered by designer and client at the initiation of every project and incorporated into the work as appropriate to the project scope. The Framework is intended to be accessible and relevant for every architect, every client, and every project, regardless of size, typology, or aspiration.

The Framework for Design Excellence challenges architects with a vision of what the profession strives to achieve, the toolkit provides practical resources to help all architects achieve the vision.

Design for Integration

Good design elevates any project, no matter how small, with a thoughtful process that delivers both beauty and function in balance. It is the element that binds

Design for Equitable Communities

Design solutions affect more than the client and current occupants. Good design positively impacts future occupants and the larger community.

Design for Ecosystems

Good design mutually benefits human and nonhuman inhabitants.

Design for Water

Good design conserves and improves the quality of water as a precious resource.

Design for Economy

Good design adds value for owners, occupants, community, and planet, regardless of project size and budget.

Design for Energy

Good design reduces energy use and eliminates dependence on fossil fuels while improving building performance, function, comfort, and enjoyment.

Design for Well-being

Good design supports health and well-being for all people, considering physical, mental, and emotional effects on building occupants and the surrounding

Design for Resources

Good design depends on informed material selection, balancing priorities to achieve durable, safe, and healthy projects with an equitable, sustainable supply

Design for Change

Adaptability, resilience, and reuse are essential to good design, which seeks to enhance usability, functionality, and value over time.

Design for Discovery

Every project presents a unique opportunity to apply lessons learned from previous projects and gather information to refine the design process.

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