Have you ever had another driver cut you off, closing in on the reasonable gap you purposely kept between your car and the car in front of you? It might make you question the quality of that person’s driving education.
This same question can be asked about what we are teaching our young professionals about the quality of design, when the pace for our design delivery has exceeded all reasonable caution. In the last 10 years, a flurry of work caused the industry to speed up the pace—but at what cost?
The expectation to research and develop designs as we simultaneously produce construction documents seemed reasonable while we juggled much on our plates. But that expectation has not gone away. In a car, you can back off the gas pedal to maintain a safe distance. But in the design world, although the economy has slowed down, the pace of projects that do get the green light are based on expectations that a final product will be delivered at a breakneck speed.
So what can we do to avert disaster?
First, we must recognize that the shifts in delivery expectations require the rules for design to change. Some of us have heeded the warnings and are prepared to make the necessary shifts, but know that taking our foot off the gas is no longer an option. We are compelled to discover a new project delivery methodology that safeguards the risk of error and delivers a better solution than the last similar project.
This has to become a professional goal. Recommended steps to achieve this might include asking if your project team has assessed the following:
Design teams are complex today and often need to augment traditional players with additional expertise. Insisting upon using an evidence-based design process allows the team to do all necessary assessments and clear visioning exercises long before the project hits the design boards. This ensures that once projects begin, they can speed through what was once a longer, traditional design sequence into a fast-track methodology.
It is vital that the team reviews the evidence-based design process with all consultants and ensures all are in agreement with the steps. A misstep here causes speed bumps later. (See “Evidence-Based Healthcare Design,” Cama, R., John Wiley and Sons, 2009.)
In order to deliver the best solutions in short periods of time, design teams will not be able to conduct customized research. It will be expected that all on the team, owners included, are (1) making a personal commitment to owning the industry’s most current knowledge; and (2) tracking a new project’s tenacity to deliver at a minimum, what the current state of the industry expects from a building that has a 40-year life span.
One sure way to do so is to be certain all team members have the EDAC (Evidence-based Design Accreditation and Certification) credential and are keeping up with their continuing education credits.
As we shift the way we deliver projects, so will we shift the way we design buildings. There are movements that will redirect our thinking in short order as our baseline knowledge rises and becomes readily accessible. Currently, building materials are being reassessed through the influences of the sustainability movement, and the systems that will improve our human condition will be derived from the Biophilia movement.
The best way to be ready for all these changes will be through an evidence-based design process. The Center for Health Design has recently released the “Healthcare Environmental Terms and Outcome Measures: An Evidence-Based Glossary.” This free glossary is the first to provide a standard glossary of terms, definitions, metrics, and measurement tools. It provides the results of using an evidence-based design process, including accepted variable and outcome measure definitions, and a model and matrix of the evaluation process.