Thursday, June 30, 2011

Organic Logic

Organic reaction correlates external influences with internal response. This is adaptation in the Natural Domain and must become design in the Built Domain. The first is a gift; the second a responsibility, and essential to the balance required for survival on a planet that does not compromise with ignorance. Appearance is not necessarily an indication of success in the Natural Domain, but a desirable symbol of increasing awareness in the Built Domain.

            Our survival has always depended on the way we think and has always involved the linear concept of cause and effect. Science simply organized a confused search that was full of emotion, distraction, assumption and superstition. At one time we danced for rain and believed it would happen, but random success destroyed the credibility of an idea. Science introduced the concept that achievement is not success until it can be duplicated. This makes talent an achievement but not a success.

Science requires measurement systems and research with vocabularies and specialized languages; but each dispassionate experiment remains a linear thought process that isolates cause and studies effect with the tools created and the knowledge accumulated.

            Linear thinking has gotten us here, but organic thinking must adapt to its success. Organic thinking involves linear strands of knowledge that combine to form a web of response. Architects are used to thinking in these terms without recognizing the attribute, because they have focused on a tactical level of achievement. By this I mean that architectural tactics have an objective that involves a strategic concept and a web of specialized knowledge, but the effort wins a battle that adds to sprawl. I should add that this organic logic may be overlooked because the thought process and decision-making is primarily learned, but not taught, which makes talent a substitute for knowledge. This leaves a vocabulary, pattern language, measurement system and method of evaluation that is not equal to the symbiotic challenge.

            Organic logic is a leadership trait at the tactical, strategic and policy levels of human decision because many variables must be reconciled within a maze of options. Advancing from the instinct, intuition and tactics of linear thought to the more abstract reconciliation of competing options with organic logic has never been easy throughout the course of human history, but it is the challenge that faces the Built Domain in the 21st century. Architects can participate or they can lead, but leadership means that tactical objectives must be woven into a strategic plan focused on a common goal. The result will be public benefit, but the effort will require determination and help from all in the web required for organic logic and adaptation.

Architecture is one of many professions that can rise to the challenge. It is certainly capable of translating talent into knowledge. This must be one objective in a strategy to achieve symbiotic harmony with the Natural Domain. Its business plan, however, may prevent a leadership effort in the public interest. This is not a criticism. It is an attempt to face reality. Major organizational adjustment would be required for architecture to participate in policy and strategic design decisions at the highest levels of human deliberation, but this is where you go when land is not taken for granted.

            Shelter is a fundamental element of survival and the only one I’m remotely qualified to address. It can also be a threat to survival. Those who have read my earlier essays know that I believe it must exist within a Built Domain that does not expand to threaten its source of survival – the Natural Domain. If you agree with this, then you may also agree that the development capacity of this Built Domain will be a function of the shelter intensity options chosen. I’ve mentioned in previous essays that intensity can be measured, classified, evaluated and forecast; but its implications require a coordinated web of research from many tactical professions and sciences. If undertaken, the reward will be knowledge that has leadership potential based on a common measurement system. At this point, tactical architecture will be led by a strategic language on the road to symbiotic victory.

We all know that the decisions of many contribute to victory and few receive award. The objective is to improve these decisions to repeat success. To make a difference, therefore, the emphasis in architecture must adjust from design award to design decision before we will be able to shelter growing populations within sustainable limits. An emphasis on defining decision builds knowledge. When decisions contribute to a goal and strategy, public benefit can be obvious. Opinion will be supported by research and award will recognize achievement that contributes to knowledge capable of repeating success.

An emphasis on award makes it the goal. This results in fame for a few but does not produce a pubic perception of value for the entire profession. Design can produce a symbiotic future for the family of man when the emphasis is on organic logic and decision. These decisions are not limited to architecture, but architecture will be part of any solution. It can be a tactical achievement in a web of organic thinking or move to the center of an organic movement that measures excellence in relation to its symbiotic goal.

In either scenario, architectural design is a thought process based on organic logic. It conducts business at the tactical level of achievement, but can translate talent to strategic knowledge and policy debate when it improves its vocabulary, language and methods of evaluation. A professional goal is to repeat success in the public interest. The challenge is to elevate architectural goals from tactical achievement to symbiotic strategies that contribute to a sustainable future. When this goal is achieved, architectural value will be priceless and award will be public recognition. Fine art will symbolize the contributions of an entire culture and the Symbiotic Period will begin.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Design Award Logic

Architects are struggling with the logic used to justify design awards. One way to make sense out of the detail is to classify the decisions involved. The military continues to face a similar problem, but identifying success is easier. They must reconcile a profusion of required decisions to reach a goal. They begin by identifying decision categories. In WWII for instance, the tactical decisions of General Patton and his army differed from the strategic decisions of Generals Marshall, Eisenhower et al. These in turn differed from the policy recommendations and decisions of Roosevelt and Congress. The decisions of Churchill and Great Britain are beyond compare. They identified the policy decisions of western civilization. The goal became unconditional surrender, but the point is not to recount history. It is to consider the categories of decision involved.

            Ever since Vietnam, the military has pointed out that strategic and tactical decisions are pointless without a realistic goal that defines success when achieved. In Vietnam, we couldn’t even declare victory and leave. The goal became withdrawal from disastrous decisions.

            So what is the hierarchy of architectural decision? In my opinion, it has not been defined and architecture is debating tactics without a leadership language, strategic plan and clarified goal. Some believe that image is the goal and represents a public benefit while others question the emphasis on form, appearance and photography. Unfortunately, “beauty benefits the beholder” has not been a very convincing public argument to sustain the architectural profession in a free market economy.

One writer has reminded us that the discussion thread should be focusing on a search for award criteria that recognize significant accomplishment “…so that the public understands that it (architecture) is more than great photography and aesthetics.”

I agree, so let’s take a closer look at a portion of the note. (I’ve taken liberties with the text by numbering the basics mentioned and underlining parts of two sentences for emphasis.) 


Do the awarded projects answer real questions and respond to real needs that could not be accommodated by other means?

As to other considerations, it would seem that all of the basics apply:

1) Responsiveness to site and context,
2) Cultural responsiveness,
3) Environmental responsiveness: orientation, day lighting, passive and active solar heating and cooling, natural ventilation, water utilization, etc.,
4) Materials and resource use and responsibility,
5) Short and long-term program responsibility.

I could go on, but the key is to define why these awarded projects are worthy of significant recognition. Their worthiness could result from many sources but we need to be clear about them so that the public understands that it is more than great photography and aesthetics. 


I couldn’t agree more with the underlined statements, but items 1-5 represent tactical evaluation. I’m not sure how to categorize the three questions in the first sentence. I’m sure, however, that if architecture rewards any response to these tactical and nebulous questions, it should be a prose award for the best novel.

In my opinion, the fundamental question is:

“Does the architectural submission achieve an objective that is part of the profession’s strategic plan to reach an acknowledged public goal?”

            We are not ready to evaluate answers to this question. What is the goal? What is the strategy? What are the objectives and tactics needed to achieve them? How do we measure success with architectural knowledge that builds on tactical engineering accomplishment? How do we elevate this knowledge to define strategic options that are recognized as a benefit to public policy evaluation and decision?

I believe the future challenge will be to provide shelter for the activities of growing populations within symbiotic geographic limits. If you agree with the challenge, then you may be ready to consider the goals required to respond. One of the first is a vocabulary that can translate the research of collaborating disciplines into a common language capable of defining options and achieving the strategic architectural decisions that emerge.

I’ve discussed the language of intensity and the vocabulary of development capacity evaluation in previous essays, on my blog and in my book so I will simply mention it here. (You can find further information in my profile.) Vocabulary and language simply allow you to speak, however. They don’t explain what to say. This requires collaboration with at least the physical, social, psychological, political and economic sciences; and research will build knowledge that connects this new language to results within a sustainable Built Domain.

Individual recognition is an artistic aspiration within us all. Common benefit is an abstract ideal that is a potential architectural contribution; but it must occur within symbiotic limits, and cannot be debated with the language of fine art. In the meantime, it is inevitable that awards will focus on tactics and appearance, but this leaves the army wandering in a jungle of detail.  

It is admirable that some in the profession want to step beyond photographs and aesthetics. This will involve asking and answering the right questions before success can be measured and acknowledged. The first two questions have been asked: How do we step beyond fine art to produce a greater level of benefit in the public interest, and how do we define success and reward excellence? The first step is to recognize that a new vocabulary and language are required. The second is to recognize that many levels of decision are involved and each is eligible for decoration. (The Medal of Honor, for instance, is a tactical award.) The third is to recognize that the answer will not involve the elimination of fine art. These are my opinions, however; and the AIAKnowledgeNet is a strategic decision that offers a platform for debate that is commendable in its own right.

I believe architectural goals can benefit an entire culture’s sustainable quality of life, but the right questions are not being asked to build the knowledge required. This direction is a policy decision, however. There is no question in my mind that fine art will emphasize the progress made once it is given the opportunity to represent a new level of symbiotic awareness.

Monday, June 20, 2011

The Missing Design Decision

            Architects must react to the land available. They have had no way of efficiently forecasting capacity without time-consuming drawings that explore a limited number of options, and no way to insist on minimum levels of project open space to offset building mass and pavement that produce intensity.

Open space, however, determines the weave of urban fabric and form, and we have little knowledge about the impact of fabric, form and intensity on our daily quality of life. This, however, determines the relationship between architecture and public benefit beyond the box. It also determines the relationship of the Natural Domain to the sustainable future of an artificial environment called the Built Domain. In other words, open space is critical, but architects cannot predict its impact on development capacity at the project level, let alone argue for city design plans that emphasize the integration of architecture with the Natural Domain.

This is organic architecture and city design, but it cannot proceed without the tools needed to predict the relationship between development capacity and open space at the project level, since this is where real estate value is calculated. Conscious project open space provisions have been ignored because their limits on development capacity could not be efficiently predicted. Project open space has been a left-over. Inclusion has been arbitrary and mandatory requirements have been considered a “taking” of individual property rights. A new method of measurement and calculation, however, offers a new ability to accurately and efficiently predict the development capacity implications of open space provisions, and to ensure equal treatment on the basis of improved knowledge.  Project open space is the missing design decision and it must align with our need to shelter growing populations within a sustainable Built Domain that retains its quality of life. This is the promise of organic architecture and city design. There’s a lot to learn because we have not been able to define and measure intensity, let alone study its implications.

            Intensity begins with architecture in the Shelter Division of the Built Domain. The Built Domain remains to be defined, but the built environment continues to expand its consumption of the Natural Domain. Shelter is served by the Movement, Open Space (agriculture, public open space) and Life Support Divisions of the built environment. This environment will continue to threaten the Natural Domain until organic architecture and city design live up to the promise implied by Louis Sullivan and Frank Lloyd Wright. This will not happen until improved measurement systems can support organic research. We are currently borrowing engineering measurements to define energy conservation and consumption while consuming the land with abandon. This is not organic design. It is sprawl.

Intensity measurement can become the foundation for organic urban research. It will eventually become essential, because development capacity must equal population growth within a limited Built Domain. Intensity measurement, evaluation and prediction is the future public benefit of architecture, and one reason why I began work on the second version of Development Capacity Evaluation software. It is attached to the second edition of my book, Land Development Calculations published by The McGraw-Hill Companies in 2010. This sounds like a blatant attempt to sell software explained by a book, but it represents my sincere desire to make a contribution.

It’s time that city fabric and form represent the goal of organic function within an urban biological system that can achieve symbiotic status with its natural partner. This can only begin with a measurement system equal to the research, evaluation and knowledge required to improve design decisions by individual practitioners. It cannot be achieved without consciously addressing a missing design decision that offsets intensity and is the foundation for our quality of life. There is no question in my mind that architecture will be recognized as a public benefit when it leads, or joins, a collaborative professional and scientific effort to study the implications of design specifications and their ability to take organic design to the next level of cultural adaptation. At this point, design specification knowledge will be supported by local, state and national governments.

AUTHOR NOTE: The problem has been that we have not been able to accurately predict the development capacity of land when a specified amount of project open space is retained as a contribution to both project and urban context. This makes intensity a wild card that is dealt by chance from a land owner’s deck and sprawl an inevitable result. When an architect leaves project open space to chance however, he isolates himself and is less able to convince others of public benefit. This is why I have focused on the ability to predict development capacity options (intensity options) when project open space is specified. Forecast models make it possible to predict hundreds of these options in a fraction of the time it would take to sketch one. It can change the way we appraise, use and preserve the land for future generations, and is one step closer to the dream begun by Louis Sullivan, Frank Lloyd Wright and Rudolf Frankel.

Thursday, June 16, 2011


This is a debate I’m having with several participants on the AIAKnowledgeNet over my essay, “Measuring Design Excellence”. There are now individuals from 41 countries reading this blog and I thought I’d include my latest comments from the AIA site. I think you will get the gist of the discussion from these comments.


I hate to belabor this since I think our positions are understood, but I have added a final sentence (to RESPONSE 1) to clarify mine. Most of this is a repeat from my earlier post (RESPONSE 1). The addition is underlined. As a further clarification, I prefer “warm and fuzzy”; but an idea must be connected to reality with more than emotion if it is to be understood by future generations. Inspiration is not knowledge, but it may lead there.


I realized the error of my sentence, "The warm and fuzzy world of artistic opinion is a dead end" and amended it to read:

"The warm and fuzzy world of artistic opinion may be a catalyst but it is not a solution."

There are so many copies of "Measuring Design Excellence" on this site (AIA) because I could not figure out how to edit the original sentence and made a mess in the attempt. The revision is more in line with Mr. Ferris' comment, but I think our opinions diverge because of emphasis. Mr. Ferris emphasizes the building as a singular accomplishment. I know the argument is that the public benefits from this accomplishment as a tenant and observer of fine art, but I believe the emphasis should be on the context this building contributes to the city in which they live. I mentioned that I believe the public lives in the city and survives in buildings. They benefit from both; but if I were trying to convince the public of architectural benefit and value, I would rather emphasize the places created than single out the building mass and pavement introduced to serve a special interest. This emphasizes intensity rather than context. The real public benefit will occur when the context and intensity of architecture shelters the activities of growing populations within a sustainable Built Domain that does not sacrifice their dignity and quality of life. Successful fine art will emphasize the decisions made but it is not a substitute for the decisions needed and the language required.

NOTE: Some of the underlined text has been added since this submission to the AIAKnowledgeNet.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


            Explaining design excellence to a skeptical public will require a better explanation of decisions. It is one thing to introduce students to the architectural language of inspiration and quite another to measure excellence on a scale that will convince the public. The public expects an explanation in return for commitment and does not believe it cannot understand.

            Progress toward excellence, however, implies a goal. The current design award goal appears to be recognition within the profession. This means that awards are understood by the initiated but public benefit is met with skepticism. If architecture wishes to bridge the public-private gap, it must explain its decisions to a public that depends on shelter for survival. This will require a new system of measurement based on a vocabulary and language that can explain and defend its decisions.

            If Louis Sullivan still remains in our pantheon of heroes, form and appearance still follow function, but we have reversed Sullivan’s priorities. Functional excellence involves plans, sections, details, systems, context, specifications, contracts and budget; but these decisions have been too difficult to explain. On top of that, plans are being claimed by interior designers in the name of interior architecture; systems are chosen by engineers; context is left-over land assigned to landscape architects; and budgets are the Achilles’ heel of the profession.

            The warm and fuzzy world of artistic opinion may be a catalyst but it is not a solution. It must be accompanied by a foundation of knowledge that convinces the public we can make a positive contribution to their daily quality of life. We live in context and survive in buildings. An architect who is forced to sacrifice context for development capacity introduces intensity that is not a public benefit. We only need to look at the tenement targets of social reform and public health for proof of this axiom. The public lives in a context created by architecture, however. The language of context is intensity, and it is composed of design components that can be measured. Intensity is calculated from these measurements and predicted with the help of design specification templates in forecast models. It represents one measurement of our quality of life, but it’s like taking blood pressure without the knowledge required for interpretation, since an abstract idea requires extensive research to connect it to reality. Architectural intensity is blood pressure without knowledge, and research represents the next step in a long history of architectural adaptation, in my opinion.

            Context is the relationship of building mass and pavement to open space. Project open space has been a commodity that remains after building area and parking requirements are met. It has been an after-thought, but design that ignores context and intensity is not a public contribution. This is a dilemma and an opportunity that requires leadership with a vocabulary and language that can become an adequate foundation for artistic expression.

            Form and appearance without function and context is incomplete. Sullivan and Wright have always been correct. Organic form follows function, but both are determined by natural responses to context that we call adaptation. These are design decisions. In the natural world context is given and responsive decision is a scientific mystery being unraveled from an infinite puzzle. In the artificial world of shelter we are expected to define sustainable context and adapt to its parameters with design decisions. It’s a tall order but a worthy goal.

            Architectural form emerges from decisions based on opinion; but artists take their knowledge to the grave and leave inspiration. We stare in wonder at their talent but should be standing in a museum where context respects accomplishment. This is the gallery approach to architecture, but architecture has never been a painting or sculpture controlled by the artist’s intent.

Sullivan and Wright were inspired by organic appearance but could not explain the design decisions that led to form and function. They could only theorize that form followed function. Artistic choice was based on opinion. They left organic decision to be unraveled by science. The modern period became inbred. It theorized that form was a product of industrial function. Natural function became an obstacle to overcome and form followed invention. Speculation has responded with sprawl as populations grow across the face of the planet.

What seemed infinite was visually confirmed as a small gift in black space protected by a thin film of atmosphere at risk in 1969. The Natural Domain became an environmental asset to be preserved and the Built Domain began to emerge as both a resource and a threat to survival. The built environment continues to expand the boundaries of our Built Domain and the intuitives among us sense the presence of a predator, but it is the predator of past practice that has always devoured those who fail to adapt. Some are raising their heads in alert but there is no place to run. There is only one certainty in this situation. The planet knows how to adapt without permission. We can only guess at the right path to follow with the help of accumulated knowledge. An educated guess resides in the world of instinct, intuition, imagination and inspiration. It permits us to contemplate abstract paths that some call evolution. Memorization records what is discovered and calls it knowledge that is passed to future generations.

            Sullivan was on the right track but our attention has been distracted by industrial invention. Protection of natural context, however, will require an understanding of shelter intensity options. In architecture and planning, shelter context will result from intensity decisions within the limits of an artificial world called the Built Domain. These decisions will directly affect our quality of life and relationship to a natural partner that does not compromise with ignorance.

The design components of intensity can be measured, forecast and catalogued. Knowledge emerges when the physical, social, psychological and economic implications of intensity measurements, options and decisions are understood. Design decisions can then be explained, and policies established, to adapt shelter demand to a limited Built Domain with intensity options that do not sacrifice our human dignity and quality of life.

We have been building with abandon as if the Natural Domain did not exist, but the Built Domain must be limited to protect the source of its survival. Shelter within limits, however, will require a much better understanding of intensity options as populations grow. The alternative is encroachment that forces the Natural Domain to respond with forces beyond our comprehension.

We communicate with an architectural language of fine art that is not equal to the challenge. We may convince ourselves but cannot convince others of public benefit and design excellence with this strategy. The public will not believe until we can explain, and its sustainable future hangs in the balance.

Architecture emerges from context with intensity but much of it is compromised because it does not control the land. It adapts to an owner’s program, who considers context a “taking” when it interferes with his interest. The result is unexpected intensity, stress that cannot be measured and sprawl across the planet.

Design excellence is currently measured with the yardstick of opinion. If public benefit is an architectural objective, the goal will have to be clarified and benefit will require a new measurement system. At the present time, education and research leave us with little more than opinion. This is not knowledge in my dictionary. Form follows substance. Substance is knowledge and decision that can improve our quality of life within sustainable geographic limits. If the definition of a Built Domain and the accumulation of intensity knowledge sound quixotic, then we are at a fork in the road.

The language of intensity is based on design component values used by embedded equations to forecast development capacity options. These are intensity options that can be compared to the context measurement of existing component values and evaluation of the conditions represented. Decisions produce intensity and context. In architecture, the context of a single flower enhances the garden but cannot compensate for a field of thorns, even though it may make a delightful photograph of contrast. This means that architecture has a larger mission if it chooses to take the assignment and confront past practices.

My impression has been that architecture wishes to measure design excellence and claim public benefit. Claims based on opinion without measurement are not equal to the challenge, but architecture has a choice. Its foundation of philosophy can continue to be taught to students who graduate with pattern language and opinion, or collaborative research can begin to evaluate the physical, social, psychological and economic consequences of intensity decisions that will shape our quality of life and sustainable future.  

Design creates context and intensity that architects have not measured and cannot control. Control is only granted to those who prove they can perform in the public interest. Style is a benefit, but intensity will define our quality of life within limits that will be imposed if not defined. This is a challenge for the profession. It is not a task for a practitioner who can only apply the tools of the profession. We need new tools that will make it possible to measure design excellence. At the present time we have little more than the yardstick of opinion.

If I have made myself clear, design excellence awarded on the basis of opinion will have a difficult time convincing the public of substantial benefit. Design is actually decision that adapts to context and constraint. Intensity is a design decision that responds to context and constraint. It can be measured, evaluated and forecast; but it has not been an architectural target nor a city design plan. It has been a response to land ownership limitations and free enterprise objectives that have largely ignored or manipulated intensity and stress in both the Natural and Built Domains.

When architects express a concern for the Built Domain and demonstrate that they understand intensity options, they will begin to address context in the public interest with a measurement language that supports their arguments. Design award evaluation will then leave knowledge for future generations in addition to symbols of cultural achievement. From this standpoint, design excellence is not a product but a collection of decisions represented by a product that has successfully adapted. Our task is to identify success with the collaborative measurements, evaluation and knowledge required. The final reward will be continued survival with dignity; and it will be granted, not given, without explanation.

AUTHOR NOTE: I’m always afraid of being too ambiguous. Architecture needs to assemble educators, professional offices, allied sciences and allied professions into a collaborative research center to create tools that can improve the performance and decisions of its practitioners. Knowledge will require public funding and decisions will require public support. When public benefit is apparent research grants and collaboration should be available. The issue is the context, function and form of shelter that can protect the public health, safety and welfare within a limited Built Domain. Intensity options are the key but they have physical, social, psychological and economic implications that are not understood. They can be measured, however, and evaluation can build knowledge that combines with form and appearance to establish another period in the evolution of architectural solutions to the problem of shelter, but within new constraints.

Monday, June 6, 2011


I wrote this for the AIAKnowledgeNet, but thought it might have broader interest to the individuals from 40 countries who are now reading this blog. 


Design matters, but can the value be monetized to serve an entire profession? Practitioners matter. Knowledge, education and talent matter, but architecture is a collection of city states competing for survival. Fewer survivors mean better odds; but a lone wolf will not thrive without the pack. Many things matter in life, but not all monetize their value. I hate speaking in these terms; but it is the language of the free market. It has not adequately defined responsibility, depends on a low bid to define value and promotes excessive competition on playing fields ruled by political referees. 

In Pogo’s words, for those old enough to remember, the problem is us. State seal laws have done little to monetize value because they do not address competition. Expanding these laws to include single and two-family housing units may expand the potential market but do little to monetize value, given our current business model and competitive instincts. 
Medicine promoted insurance to monetize value. The law controls justice and other professions search for similar advantage. It appears to me, therefore, that architecture matters, not to mention design; but that the real question is how to monetize its value without violating the law. (As an aside, I don’t believe that the slogan, “design matters”, works to achieve this goal. If anything, it promotes unlicensed designers. I prefer “architecture matters”, since design is often equated in the public mind with felt tips and crayons, but this is another issue.) 
Medicine controls public health. Law controls public safety. That leaves welfare, which is our physical, social, psychological and economic quality of life. If the objective is to win a public commitment to architecture, then what does architecture have to offer our quality of life? It can only recommend. It cannot oppose owner decisions that affect the public interest without the risk of losing a valuable client. This is why building and zoning codes were imposed. They are still met with disdain by some because of their imperfections, but I don’t think that architects are perceived as contributing to their improvement.  
The bottom line is that architecture and city planning are not in control of a process that is consuming the face of the planet with sprawl in a search for quality. The antidote to sprawl is intensity, but it has been a mysterious word without adequate definition that is associated with stress. Intensity options within geographic limits however, are the only way to contain sprawl and shelter growing populations while protecting an irreplaceable natural partner. Architects will provide an invaluable service when they can translate design decisions into intensity options that make better use of the development capacity of land while reducing stress. The goal is to improve the physical, social, psychological and economic quality of life within sustainable geographic limits. An architect who can lead this effort with the knowledge required will have no problem monetizing his or her value when the right business model for the profession supports the effort.  

At the present time architects borrow engineering knowledge. Design knowledge is considered a fine art. Intensity translation, however, can provide the vocabulary and language needed to give design the voice required within public forums, since it must convincingly argue that it can lead shelter and urban form along the path to a sustainable future with dignity. At this point, the relationship between public benefit and special interest will be clear, but architects must argue for the authority required to lead the effort. Until then, design recommendations will remain a captive of special interest, city design will appear unrealistic, public value will not be monetized and public benefit will be derived from the minimum standards of third party legislation. 
The relationship of pavement to intensity within the Shelter Division of the built environment 
The intensity of shelter is based on the relationship of building mass and pavement to project open space. (Architecture is shelter and the foundation for this division of the built environment.) I have never considered parking lots, for instance, to be open space even though they allow light, air and ventilation to reach street level. Building cover and pavement cover are forms of impervious cover that are offset by open space. These relationships define balance and the weave of urban fabric. Building mass adds volume to yield urban form. We live within the intensity created. 
There are four divisions of the built environment: shelter, movement, open space and life support. (The Open Space Division includes public open space and agriculture. Project open space is part of the Shelter Division. The built environment exists within a Built Domain that has yet to be defined, but is being carefully assessed by a Natural Domain that does not compromise with ignorance.) Pavement is contained within each division of the built environment, but I am only referring to intensity within the Shelter Division, and pavement cannot be ignored as a fundamental element of the intensity we experience, in my opinion. 
Measuring excellence 

The combination of shelter, pavement and open space can be used as an architectural index to catalog research results and build knowledge with a precise measurement system. (I won’t get into design specification values, but if you read one of the two blog essays noted below you’ll see what I mean. 
A universal table of intensity is presented in my blog articles, “The Nature of Intensity” and “The Leadership Potential of Intensity Measurement”. All architectural projects will fall somewhere in this table. Context research is required to identify measurement implications and build knowledge. This table is based on intensity being equal to total development area (gross building area + all pavement area) divided by the project open space provided, or: 

INT = TDA / S 

The universal table shows the complete range of potential intensity choices, but not all choices are desirable. Context research is required to build knowledge that will add definition to these measurements. This knowledge can be used to forecast intensity options that can shelter growing populations within geographic limits. This level of architectural knowledge can contribute to a fundamental public issue facing future generations. It is not meant to replace traditional architectural design, but to add substance and public relevance to its arguments.