FIGURE D.1 Internal Revenue Service building, Kansas City, Missouri. SOURCE: Courtesy of BNIM Architects.

The “Top Ten Green” building design awards that the AIA COTE bestows every year provide a snapshot of this evolution. On the AIA Web site (, one can see how the industry has progressed in its concept of what is green and what is good design.

One recent example of good design recognized in AIA’s Top Ten program is a large Internal Revenue Service (IRS) center in my hometown, Kansas City, Missouri (Figure D.1). This building of approximately 1 million square feet of space was constructed using a design-build process in which the IRS, the General Services Administration (GSA), the developer, the city, and the source of financing were all partners.

The design team used building information modeling (BIM) to analyze many scenarios quickly to advance the best concepts—those that would satisfy a range of stakeholders and create an environment within which the people processing tax returns could feel good about their environment and experience increased health and productivity.

BNIM Architects has used BIM technology on a variety of projects including a band shell in North Charleston, South Carolina (Figure D.2). This facility was part of a 3,000-acre redevelopment, and our client wanted it to be ready for a Fourth of July concert. However, by the time design approval was received from the city, we did not have time for a typical design-bid-build process. So, our office e-mailed our design (using BIM) to the contractor. The design documents were created and approved electronically and then entered directly into the contractor’s manufacturing system (computer-controlled fabrication). The only piece of paper that was printed for this project was the foundation drawing for the local contractor. Technology and collaboration, in this case, made the impossible possible.

We find that high-performance goals require systems-based thinking, collaboration, and computer tools to facilitate a collaborative dialogue of discovery. A comprehensive redevelopment plan for 3,000 acres in North Charleston, South Carolina, is a good example. We first looked back 12,000 years at the deep ecology of the place to understand its history—not to restore it, but to create the best options for moving forward and adding vitality with each decision. As seen in the conceptual plan in Figure D.3, we were examining human systems of 5- and 10-minute walking circles, centering them on the 11 schools within the area. This approach influenced transportation systems and the co-location of community centers, libraries, health clinics, and other community services within the schools. These decisions, in turn, increased the efficiency, quality of life, and economic performance of our community.

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