Site Assessment & Design

Photo: Bindersbee (public domain)

Our built environment is flooded with glass boxes that could be located anywhere, while many of the most successful and celebrated examples of architecture reflect and respond to unique site features. Whether or not a design team has a say in siting a project, carefully assessing the site should be on every project’s to-do list.

Careful consideration of these factors can inform design and support not only sustainable design objectives but also the basic architecture of the building:

  • onsite climate conditions

  • unique weather patterns

  • solar access

  • water opportunities

  • unique flora and fauna

  • topography

A site assessment early in design can reduce costs, allay potential risks, support the health and well-being of occupants and native habitat, and promote other unique site features.

Site Assessment & Design

Deep Dives

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  • Work Globally, Design Locally

    Feature Article

    In today’s global economy, American architects work on six continents—but that doesn’t mean they should all have identical glass towers.

  • Pest Prevention: Steps Designers Can Take

    Feature Article

    Integrated pest management (IPM) design strategies can reduce structural damage and unsanitary conditions, and improve our community’s health. 

  • Are Cool Roofs Green? The Answer’s Not Black and White

    Feature Article

    Roofing choices are complicated by heating tradeoffs, climate effects, and condensation, but proponents say reflective roofs still make sense in most climates.

  • Growing Food Locally: Integrating Agriculture Into the Built Environment

    Feature Article

    With a little ingenuity, the flat roofs and vacant lots of urban centers can be used effectively for food production. Numerous models can bring building-integrated food production to your project, while making our food supply chain more sustainable.

Quick Takes

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  • How Environmental Site Assessments Work

    Primer

    Existing buildings and previously developed sites are great, but they often need environmental cleanup. An ESA is the first step.

  • Putting a “LID” on Harmful Stormwater Runoff

    Primer

    Low-impact development (LID) minimizes pavement and maximizes rainwater infiltration, filtering out pollution and preventing erosion.

  • Sharing the Skyline with Birds

    Primer

    Buildings are major killers of birds, but thoughtful design can help.

  • Combined Sewer Overflow

    Primer

    Combined sewer overflows (CSOs) occur in municipalities with older wastewater systems that carry both sanitary wastewater and stormwater; eliminating CSOs involves investment in wastewater infrastructure and reducing stormwater flows.

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