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Effectiveness in Architecture
Lawrence Speck, PageSoutherlandPage

As the Buro Happold Effectiveness in Architecture Award reaches its closing stages, we got in touch with award-winning architect and previous judge Larry Speck, to further explore the concept and the obstacles facing Effective Design.

There are a growing number of evangelists for effective building design. Why do you think this is?

People choose to be evangelists because they are true believers, and there are a lot of us who truly believe architecture's core purpose is to make a lasting contribution to society and transform peoples' lives. We are tired of architecture being relegated to an elite sub-culture and are ready to talk about its extraordinary effectiveness in helping a culture achieve its most fundamental goals.

A building that really works well must shine a very positive light on the role of the architect behind it, and presumably


helps them win new work?

I was in Vancouver recently and took an afternoon to visit a recent recipient of the WAN Effectiveness Award - the Vancouver Convention Center. I was shown around by the convention center's COO who was an extraordinary advocate for effective building design and for the power of architecture to impact his building, his industry and his city. That building is shining a very positive light on the role of the architect, and its users are getting the word out in a way that will help us all win new work!

How can effective design be measured?

Effective design is best measured by talking with users, measuring the success of the enterprise being housed, assessing economic impact, observing personal interactions provoked, gathering data on energy performance and looking at social and cultural transformations engendered over time. This is a sociological, anthropological and economic enterprise, and we need to learn how to use the tools of those disciplines.

What are the obstacles facing growth in Effective Design?

One of the biggest obstacles to effective design is our own preoccupation in the sub-culture of architecture with what is new. We have gotten so obsessed with 'the latest thing' that we have forgotten that buildings stick around for a very long time and that novelty wears thin very quickly. Effective design requires a long view and the realization that real depth in buildings necessitates


patience, diligence, thoroughness, commitment and a longer attention span than a quick sketch or a short charrette demonstrates.

Why should an architect be excited about Effective Design; it might not even be in the building’s brief?

Effective design parameters should be at the core of every building brief. If the brief is only an outline of spaces, square feet and costs, it underestimates the importance of buildings and their ability to make a real difference in the lives of people, companies and institutions they serve. To learn more or register for the Buro Happold Effectiveness In Architecture Award, you can visit the page here here .

PageSoutherlandPage , Austin


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