Framework for Design Excellence: Design for Equitable Communities

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

  • What is the project's greater reach? How could this project contribute to creating a diverse, accessible, walkable, just, and human-scaled community?
  • Who might this project be forgetting? How can the design process and outcome remove barriers and promote inclusion and social equity, particularly with respect to vulnerable communities?
  • What opportunities exist in this project to include, engage, and promote human connection?
  • How can the design support health and resilience for the community during times of need or during emergencies?

Focus topics

  • Extend our reach beyond projects.
  • social justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion
  • community engagement and gathering
  • community resilience
  • mobility and access

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

  • Work to create thriving communities.
  • Plan for robust stakeholder engagement.
  • Facilitate equitable gathering and connecting in the design and beyond buildings in the community.
  • Organize the design team so that disciplines integrate and are not siloed.

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

Environmental Nature Center Preschool-06

Cris Costea

Ford Foundation 01

Garrett Rowland

TheSix 001 TaraWucjik_s,

Tara Wucjik


Matthew Millman