Framework for Design Excellence: 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 all the principles together with a big idea.

  • What is the concept or purpose behind this project, and how will the priorities within the nine other principles inform the unique approach to this project?
  • How will the project engage the senses and connect people to place?
  • What makes the project one that people will fight to preserve?
  • What design strategies can provide multiple benefits across the triple bottom line of social, economic, and environmental value?

Focus topics

  • Beauty and delight
  • Central design and performance concept
  • Connections with place, including climate, history, and people
  • Integrated design process

If you can do only one (or a few) thing(s):

  • Design a building to lift the spirits and delight the senses.
  • Design to engage the natural and cultural environment of the place, including the climate, history, and people. 
  • Use an integrated design process that respects and values multiple viewpoints.
  • ZERO-CARBON: Set and articulate operational and embodied carbon goals early in the process and communicate them with the entire team. Check in with team members often to ensure the goals are being integrated throughout the project.
  • RESILIENT: Establish resilience goals early in the process and monitor progress throughout the project.
  • EQUITABLE: Map, identify, and engage diverse project stakeholders throughout the project’s development. Articulate equity goals early in the process and check in with team members often.
  • HEALTHY: Identify human health and well-being goals early in the process and track progress throughout the design process.

Additional information

This publication is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information in regard to the subject matter covered. It is published and distributed with the understanding that the publisher is not engaged in rendering professional services. If professional advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional person should be sought.

AIA does not sponsor or endorse any enterprise, whether public or private, operated for profit. Further, no AIA officer, director, committee member, or employee, or any of its component organizations in his or her official capacity, is permitted to approve, sponsor, endorse, or do anything that may be deemed or construed to be an approval, sponsorship, or endorsement of any material of construction or any method or manner of handling, using, distributing, or dealing in any material or product.

Image credits

Exterior photo in dusk of the library with gray cladding and wood paneling with backlighting the word library.

David Wakeley


Casey Dunn

The Edith Green – Wendell Wyatt Federal Building

Jeremy Bittermann

New Orleans BioInnovation Center

Timothy Hursley