Improving Process through Design

Architects’ jobs are to design buildings. Most would consider this to be true. However, many times our jobs go beyond that. For the past several months I have been working on a master plan and programming a new intake facility for the county jail. This project isn’t just about the building, instead it’s about learning their process, finding ways to make it more efficient and then providing them the correct spaces to accomplish this.

I remember in school we designed a winery and in order to do that we had to learn all about the wine-making process so that we could create a design that allowed their process to take place easily and efficiently. To this day I probably know more about the wine making process than your average person. The same is now true for processing a detainee into the jail.

It’s not enough just to understand the process though; you really have to fit your design to that process so it improves the client’s use of the space. The best example I can think of that fails to do this is the Guggenheim Museum by Frank Lloyd Wright in New York. This building’s biggest error is the inability to hang artwork correctly along the ramp. This just shows that no matter how great the design is and how good it looks, if it doesn’t function, it can be thought of as bad. It’s important to make sure the design of a building allows it to be used.