Posted in education on October 13, 2015 10:32 am EDT

The Pursuit of Excellence

Award-winning design hinges upon careful execution of an idea. Read on to learn how to arrive at design excellence, no matter the size, materials or budget.











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TAGS: architecture, awards, business, collaboration, education, sacred space, sustainability,


By Chuck Hulstrand

What’s the first thing you think of when you hear the phrase “award-winning design”?

Do you envision the highest ideals of design excellence, accompanied by images of your favorite projects through the years? Or do you immediately picture dollar signs and outsized egos?

Every stage of design should serve as a springboard for deeper conversation and better understanding, so that the ultimate design direction truly represents the client’s vision.

Chuck Hultstrand, AIA, LEED Green Associate, is a vice president, principal, and design leader at LS3P.

Your perspective may well depend upon your role in the building process. If you’re an architect, you’re well aware that design excellence happens at all scales and within all budgets. You also know that a successful project begins and ends with realizing each client’s unique vision. If you’re part of a building committee, however, you may suspect that award-winning designs come with a high price tag. You may worry that you’ll end up with a radical design that doesn’t reflect your values, or a facility that will invite the faulty perception that your worship center is more concerned with image than with outreach.

The conversation about excellence often begins with worship clients who, at the earliest stages of a project, start to talk about “timeless designs” or imagine a new worship center that “truly reflects the identity of the congregation.” These clients are hoping for something more than a facility that merely provides enough functional square footage. These early discussions about a congregation’s aspirations for their worship center provide a perfect opportunity for the architect to underscore a critical message: award-winning design is not about expensive materials or trendy images, but about executing a project, from the big picture down to the hardware details, with thoughtfulness and care. However modest in size or materials, any space that truly reflects the identity of those who worship within it can demonstrate design excellence.

First things first

A successful process for any design project begins with building trust and communication. The architect’s first job is to listen deeply. Honest communication is key so that the entire team can work toward a clearly articulated vision. The architect may understand this process intuitively; architects know that they are entrusted with the client’s vision, as clients are entrusted to be stewards of their congregation’s vision, mission and resources. In this significant role, the building committee becomes a champion for excellence, challenging the design team to think more deeply about the unique mission of the congregation and how this mission might manifest itself as physical space.  continued >>