Susan Aitken on Inclusive Design

By:  Susan Aitken

Design is about more than building buildings - it's about building relationships.  Our job is to get to know our clients, so that we can fulfill and exceed their expectations and needs.  We enjoy this part of the process immensely, because we want our buildings to relate to people personally, not just institutionally.

Community Design

We take a proactive approach to eliciting community input and feedback using interviews, meetings, hands-on workshops, presentations, and surveys as needed, and regularly check in to make sure we have heard correctly.  Providing stakeholders with the information necessary to truly participate is an important part of the collaborative process.  We share our expertise about how the built environment can meet the project's goals and provide stakeholders with decision-making tools necessary to keep the project with budget, scope and schedule.

Better Solutions

The point of the collaborative design process is to come up with an even better solution.  Our collaborative design process for a new addition at Sheridan Elementary provide a novel solution that pleased everyone involved.  We included a joint-use auditorium available for neighborhood use, student assembly and performance.  The new space allowed the school's aging music labs to be converted much needed art / science project-based learning studios, while the sidewalk siting of the auditorium, with a separate entry, makes it easy for community access while minimizing disruption of school activities and ensuring school security after hours.