In Response: National Conversation on Design

Recently, a draft executive order surfaced that would impose uniform design standards on significant federal architecture projects. Regardless of whether the order is realized, it has sparked a thoughtful internal dialogue here at HGA, as well as in our industry.

We support the response issued by the American Institute of Architects (AIA) that opposes uniform style mandates for federal architecture. At the same time, we understand and respect the nuanced differences in viewpoints on this issue. HGA strongly believes in listening closely to the clients and communities we serve and responding with design that leverages our expertise to meet their specific needs, their cultures, and their contexts.

Many of us have studied and appreciate the beauty, craft, and detail of classical architecture and have enjoyed working on projects that respond to an historic or traditional context. HGA’s renovation and restoration of historic buildings, including the Minnesota State Capitol honored with a 2020 AIA Architecture Award, exemplifies our firm’s deep respect for these buildings. However, we also know that realizing the detailed and extensive design considerations associated with this style on new buildings while also fulfilling requirements for security, energy performance, and function often costs more than many clients’ budgets will allow. These projects are also often publicly funded, which increases the importance of creating value within that budget.

We believe the best design process is not dictated by a single point of view. By involving people from different backgrounds and perspectives, we have made tremendous advances in understanding how people experience space; advances in design that transcend any particular style of architecture, and focus instead on making a more positive impact. This evolution must continue if we are to advance the value of the built environment.

Tim Carl, FAIA, LEED AP is the CEO of HGA and and Senior Design Principal.