I am not the only Architect who ties design into community responsibility

Why talk about the sustainability of the planet? Why talk of personal responsibility? As an Architect we are charged with protecting the Life, Safety, and Welfare of people, not just our clients. There are government rules we must follow. There are  changing rules and regulations that are continually modifying that we must or should be aware of if we are to be of the greatest assistance to our clients and the community. Having been involved with community issues, non-profits, varying building types, and numerous clients and consultants, I have been able to have input into the changing rules and regulations on many different levels, departments, and building setbacks. By providing resources for the community I have extended my sphere of knowledge assisting in the decision making process for my clients. Supporting society, volunteering, being active, having a great outreach effort to know people, all have given me and my client’s access to a great amount of information. This access keeps me in the know when it comes to directing the design and management of all our jobs. In this day and age that knowledge acts as a great brain trust. This knowledge then transfers into the ability to push the rules and regulations to the limit, where necessary, advancing our clients goals, schedules, and bottom line.

Why is this important? If I am to be the architect I have always wanted to be, then I must look at the entire picture of my responsibilities. It is not just for me to design great places, but to be a responsible citizen of my community and the earth! Caring whether a building meets codes and client’s goals are one thing. Having a meaningful design that does meet my client’s goals and their responsibilities is the driving force that I use in each design. But each design does have a higher level of responsibility. It is the community! If the project does not meet the needs around the community at large then its opportunities are lost on a lack of imagination, energy, and spirit. I want it all! I want my clients to have it all! That is what I believe a good architect is looking out for to achieve a very successful project for our clients. If you can use some of the community resources for your own benefit then why not. Getting a greater bang for the buck is always good planning. One of my projects was in need of irrigation water for a community bike path. A neighbor along the proposed walk path was required to clean up the water table beneath their property and then pay to dump it back into the LA River. By donating this clarified water to our bike path needs we received free water and the neighboring property did not need to pay to dump water anymore. This kind of thinking works for many types of utility services. It also works for parking, park land, building area rights, easements, affordable housing, mixed use developments, and almost any situation you put me in front of. The brainstorming process, with the knowledge of what is going on in our community, provides the basis for coming up with solutions to development issues. It is really enjoyable to help in this way. I really can make a difference for my clients and the community.In efforts to “green” the non-profits I have been involved with, my "out of the box" thinking opened up new opportunities. It also helped in the business planning by finding holes in the existing business paths being taken when I questioned ongoing assumptions. An example of this was a for-profit industrial project. I noted at the initial interview that the toxic containers were the first thing that should be addressed prior to even getting into the design. Unfortunately my company was not selected. However, I found out later the architect hired did not even address this issue and it became a very big deal to solve. I always point out the good, the bad, and the ugly part of a project as I do my initial job walk. It is my job to point out what I see from all my diverse experiences and let the client know what they are getting involved with. If it means they do not what to continue with the project, all the better to stave off a project that would have gone contrary to the client’s goals at the earliest stage of the proposed project. This is what I have done on each project I have been involved with. This is the ethically responsible approach to my practice. This is looking after the entire development and design team. This is looking after the Life, Safety and Welfare of all parties involved. It is top to bottom thinking. This is leadership, personal, professional, and for the community at large. We all want a very successful project!