On Design Appropriateness

That word – appropriateness – conjures up all kinds of thoughts and ideas, and perhaps concerns or accusations, too. So what are we really getting at when we talk about design appropriateness?

For us, design appropriateness means designing to meet the specific criteria, and budget, that best represents the client in the form of a facility. Put another way, we need to provide the best possible solution to what’s appropriate for any given client – not what we, as architects, desire to build. While that may sound like common sense, it’s more uncommon than you might think.

Every architect wants to build that crown jewel, that Taj Mahal-type landmark. But those “from scratch” projects are few and far between, and are all but nonexistent when repurposing existing facilities to meet new circumstances. Unfortunately, those seeking architecture services can find themselves being shoehorned into a style that a particular architect practices. And while clients may think that’s what they want or need, it often foregoes what’s practical or feasible.

Admittedly it would be easier to fit clients into an architect’s style. But that’s not responsive design. It’s not customized. The purpose, specific needs, environment, material usage, location, building schedule and budget of the project become secondary considerations rather than the drivers they should be.

Design appropriateness means taking your bias out of the equation. It means listening and being a true service provider. It also means no two projects ever look the same. We think that’s an appropriate approach where everyone wins.