Objective Design – A New Oxymoron?

Transitioning from traditional design guidelines to objective design standards can be challenging. On this panel, designers and planners will discuss how to do the improbable: replace design guidelines with standards for housing and even commercial uses. What have been the results so far? What are the lessons learned? And, just like jumbo shrimp we will explore whether objective design is an oxymoron.

Building and site design has long been the last bastion of design expression. Once housing density has been established, the designers were left to create their own project on a site and then convince the agency of the merits of their vision. Some won, some lost, and for some the process was so onerous that now there is a state mandate to create ‘objective’ design standards for housing. This panel will debate on the methods of doing this, and where design flexibility can still be achieved. Certainly, there will be sarcasm, wit, humor, annoyance, and exasperation expressed during the debate, but through it all you will learn a few tips and approaches that will help you with writing objective standards. Plenty of time for questions and discussion – and we may even have some answers for you.

Speakers: Alan A Loomis, AICP, Principal of Urban Design at PlaceWorks; Matt Gelbman, AICP, Senior Urban Planner at Ascent Environmental; Karen Gulley Managing Principal at PlaceWorks.

American Planning Association, Orange County Section, Planner’s Toolbox Webinar, May 12, 2021