Resilient Design: Not as mainstream as we’d like

Posted by on Oct 28, 2014

ny_resilientAs part of its monthly tracking how the architectural firms are faring, in its latest survey the American Institute of Architects queried members about their resilient design practices.

Since “resilient design” is a concept that’s not yet the kind of household word that “sustainability” has become, we’re encouraged at the number of architecture shops that report having done projects that involved resilient design (about a quarter of them) — but at the same time, the numbers indicate that resilient design has a ways to go before it is a mainstream practice in the building trade — since fewer than one out of five firms think that 25% or more of their projects will entail resilient design five years from now. Institutional firms were reported as most likely to be doing resilient design.

Here’s the key portion of the AIA’s report dealing with resilient design:

This month’s special practice question asked survey panelists about their firm’s work on projects with characteristics of resilient design, defined as “using a holistic approach that includes (but is not limited to) design that improves the project’s ability to prepare and plan for, absorb, recover from, and more successfully adapt to adverse events.” Just over one quarter of responding firms (25.7%) indicated that they have worked on projects with characteristics of resilient design over the past five years, although that share approached one third of firms (31.4%) for those with an institutional specialization.

Responding firms indicate that the client types most likely to have undertaken, or inquired about, projects with characteristics of resilient design were single-family residential, followed by K-12 education. Government/civic clients (e.g. post offices, federal office buildings), office, and healthcare clients were also cited frequently.

When asked to estimate the share of projects at their firm with characteristics of resilient design five years in the future, nearly one third of firms (32.1%) anticipated that they would account for less than 1% of firm projects, by dollar volume. Fewer than one in five firms (18.3%) expect that these projects will account for 25% or more of their firm’s projects in five years.

Image: Resilient House by Sustainable.TO Architects

One Comment

  1. A lot of firms say they are using resilient design principles, but it would help if AIA developed a standard on what resilient design really is, how to apply these principles in a meaning full way. Otherwise lots of architects and engineers are using the term without much definition around it, kind of like the term green building before LEED helped to establish a framework around what defines a green building. The building industry needs a standard around resilient design. Maybe there is already something out there?


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