Framework for Design Excellence

Van Leesten Memorial Bridge by INFORM Studio

The AIA Framework for Design Excellence represents the defining principles of design excellence in the 21st century. Comprised of 10 principles and accompanied by searching questions, the framework informs progress toward a zero-carbon, healthy, just, resilient, and equitable built environment.

Your guide for designing change

Design for Integration

Good design elevates any project, no matter how small, with a thoughtful process that delivers both beauty and function in balance. It is the element that binds all the principles together with a big idea. 

Design for Equitable Communities

Design solutions affect more than the client and current occupants. Good design positively impacts the future by helping communities thrive—socially, economically, and environmentally.

Design for Ecosystems

Good design mutually benefits human and nonhuman inhabitants. What we design has a direct impact on the ecosystems in and around the site. Understanding the site dynamics will allow us to be more conscious of our impacts. 

Design for Water

Good design conserves and improves the quality of water as a precious resource.

Design for Economy

Good design adds economic value for owners, occupants, the community, and the planet—regardless of the project size and budget.

Design for Energy

Good design reduces energy use and eliminates dependence on fossil fuels while improving building performance, function, comfort, and enjoyment.

Design for Well-being

Good design supports health and well-being for all people—considering physical, mental, and emotional effects on building occupants and the surrounding community.

Design for Resources

Good design depends on informed material and resource selection—balancing priorities to achieve durable, safe, and healthy projects with an equitable, sustainable supply chain to minimize possible negative impacts on the planet.

Design for Change

Good design is adaptable, resilient, and flexible to change over time—reducing the building’s risk and vulnerability and enhancing its usability, functionality, and value.

Design for Discovery

Every design project presents a unique opportunity to apply lessons learned from previous projects and discover new information to refine the design and construction process.

Glossary—Framework for Design Excellence

Browse the glossary of key terms for the AIA Framework for Design Excellence.

Questions about the Framework for Design Excellence? Contact AIA Central Oklahoma Committee on the Environment Chair, Michael Hoffner, AIA.

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