Architect, Landscape Architect, Urban Designer, Land Use Planner, Environmental Observer

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Design Guidelines... Do They Really Help?

I have to say yes...having been in three planning agencies and seen some of the most mundane designs possible. I've been on all three sides of the fence - as an architect, as a planning commissioner and as a planner. Architects may know (but hardly acknowledge) that an enormous amount of what is submitted to agencies (city and county planning departments) is NOT prepared by licensed individuals.

I like to say that design review is similar to the high jump in track and field. If you set the bar at 18", even a short person like myself could walk over it. If you set the bar at 7', very few people in the entire country could jump over it. So, what is the right height?....For Design Review, I think it's about three feet. Normal designers should have to jump and get off the ground, but you should not have to be a super star architect to get over.

How does someone know where that bar is set
in the nebulous world of design review? ....

By a really good set of Design Guidelines.

I've worked on guidelines for twenty years. I think they work best when to an architect, they look like motherhood and apple pie. Who would think these are revelations? - many design people AND the general public. The best quote I have heard about the guidelines I produced was from a county counsel who said "I get it, it's like Architecture 101! ".

Here are some sample pages - presented only for illustration....

After years of teaching both architectural and landscape architectural design, I have learned that the basics matter. It is like an athlete who practices and practices. When they get into competition, they are in the "zone".

Ask Michael Jordan or Jerry Rice.

. . .

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