Mission + Core Values

Five propositions are at the core of the Council’s studies, documentation, advocacy and training

  1. Society benefits when built environment is designed for long-term value.
  2. Public and private investors gain value from development decision making processes that anticipate and accommodate social and technical change.
  3. Society, clients and users benefit when existing buildings are transformed in respect to future change in use.
  4. An efficient building industry is needed to produce long lasting buildings and the fit-out supporting changing occupancy requirements, supported by revised regulations, new financing tools and changes in property law.
  5. Practitioners benefit from a growing knowledge base of design processes attuned to the dynamics of a building stock that is never finished and for which responsibility is distributed among many professions as well as users over time.

A learning organization focused on implementation
We believe that the “Open Building Approach” – a set of design methods and processes based on these five propositions - should become normative and unexceptional. Making these practices explicit and clarifying the language we use to describe them will enable methodical improvement. To this end, the Council documents the work of practitioners who follow the OB approach in practice, including the varied ways we are challenged to deal with the dimension of time in our work both during the process of design and building, as well as during the use of the products of the designs in the future.

Addressing the dimension of time is already followed in commercial office and retail buildings, but is similarly pervasive and equally relevant in other building use types such as healthcare, educational facilities and housing, albeit less explicitly implemented and less consciously considered.



A Transition Period
We are now in a transition period during which infrastructure principles – Open Building or other words with the same meaning - are being recognized as imperative if we really aspire to produce and maintain a resilient and sustainable building stock, across functional classes.

In fact, our problem may be in giving a name to what we need to attend to. The naming of building types and decision-making models – in everyday conversation as in regulations, the law and finance, not to mention the design / build community - is in question as more mixed-use buildings are constructed and as buildings come to change function – or adjust functionality – more frequently than ever. There is nothing wrong with an implicit way of building – where everyone just “gets it.” In fact there is great power in the very implicitness of the best ordinary environment. But it is also the case that because it has no accepted name, attempts to improve how we bring about an excellent and capacious building stock are less effective than they could be, and is the cause of uncertainty rather than a basis for positive exploration and development.

We think you’ll agree that the built environment is most resilient when it is prepared for change – not only in the face of disasters, but to accommodate change in and of functions, however slow. We also think you’ll agree that the goal of sustainability cannot be limited to improved energy performance, as vital as that is. We also think you’ll agree that the canard that planning for change is too expensive is increasingly being exposed as fallacious, as social dynamics and new solutions make this new imperative as pragmatic as building net-zero buildings.

Augmenting our shared knowledge base is the way to make a successful contribution to this agenda. The principle means of getting started in this work is to make current best practices of designing for change explicit – through documentation, assessment and reporting. This opens the way for methodical improvement – perhaps through developing practice standards, guidance documents, cost modeling tools and training. In doing so, we think we can contribute to recreating the lost knowledge evident in built environments that have sustained themselves for hundreds of years. Of course, today the job is much more complex and litigious than ever, so we need to build collaborative partnerships.

Having gathered with leaders across the United States over the past year, we are building momentum and invite you to become a part of this vital initiative.