Ethical imperatives currently hover over architectural practices worldwide. The notion of exploitation, environmental or human, is often addressed today less through a recourse to previous principles for the generation of form, space, or program than through bureaucratized frameworks that involve little beyond simply checking, for better or worse taste, a compliance box. The US Green Building Council (USGBC), the developer of the LEED building rating system, was created in 1993. The aura surrounding LEED Platinum certification has become a common object of desire among developers and clients around the world, sometimes more powerful than any local code. Buildings around the world are being designed to enter the club of the self-consciously responsible in relationship to energy consumption and sustainable practices. In a parallel manner, a growing awareness of the conditions of labor on construction sites worldwide has prompted reflection on questions of human sustainability and the principles that might be applied, whether through measuring tools or design strategies, to make the building of architecture an ethically tenable construct. What are the mechanisms for ensuring human sustainability?


WEEK 17/25 


September 18-20, 2014

OfficeUS, Venice 

Featuring speakers from  Yale University, HOK, Sasaki Associates, University College London, TAMassociati, University of Torino, MASS Design Group



The OfficeUS Workshop on Labor LEED investigates the relationship between the implements of architectural practice and the opportunities and outcomes of our profession. Can social, economic, architectural and technological aspirations be encoded into indices and processes for design? Can a measurable system for design and its process increase the sustainability of society and improve the situation for the individuals who create, use and maintain its physical environment?


A group of designers, business leaders and academics will consider what new tools, codes, and measurements might be developed in the future to motivate higher levels of economic sustainability and access. Participants will codify the concept of design in a future of interlocked contexts – networks which connect virtual information with concrete artifacts and transform human existence. Workshop participants will develop requirements for tools capable of representing architecture as a system of social, environmental and economic elements, and incorporating factors of equity, health and ethics.


An afternoon panel discussion among experts – architects, technologists and academics – serves as a platform for debate and idea-generation, concluding with a problem statement for a new system of design measurement. Following, a design charrette will involve OfficeUS Partners and collaborators in proposing the requirements for a measurement system and associated methods of practice.





How has the evolution of disruptive tools and standards for designing and making affected architectural practice?

What opportunities do tools such as design measurement systems offer to improve the social outcomes of the built environment?
For which issues can we envision specific measurement platforms to expand the set of obligations for architects? Can we enlarge the rubric of sustainability to encompass ethical behavior and social aspirations?
What systems of specification, measurement and assessment could increase opportunity, sustainability, and equity of access in the work of design and construction?
How might the work of architects change as a result of these new standards? Will the resulting patterns of practice provide or restrict opportunities? And for whom?
What are the most important requirements for systems and technology in a future where context and space are interconnected, information is transparently accessible and society increasingly demands support for growing populations and diminishing resources?





Friday, 19 September | PANELS & DISCUSSION | La Biennale di Venezia – Giardini – US Pavilion


1:00 – 1:15 pm Welcome Remarks. Eva Franch i Gilabert


1:15 -1:30 pm Introductions. OfficeUS Partners. 


1:30 – 2:30 pm  Tools and Standards Panel: Opportunity and Access to the Profession

Phil Bernstein FAIA RIBA (Autodesk, Yale), Patrick MacLeamy FAIA (HOK, BuildingSMART International), Mario Carpo (University College London), and Steve Brittan Associate AIA (Sasaki Associates, SACI)


Economic imperatives combined with aspirations for performance improvement drive the invention of tools and the eventual adoption of standards. How have different eras of tools for designing and making affected the nature of the work of architects? What can we observe about the impact of new processes and methods on access to professional design roles, and opportunities for individuals and firms? How might new future tools reshape access for those who design, build, occupy, and maintain buildings?


2:30 – 3:30 pm Measurement and Issues Panel: Design Systems and Standards for Societal Change

Sierra Bainbridge (MASS Design Group), Mario Giaccone (Univ of Torino), Raul Pantaleo (TAMassociati) and Peggy Deamer (Yale)

Can a measurement system drive social change? What must society demand from design tools and standards in the future? Panelists present examples of design standards and tools – regulatory codes, market-driven systems which evolved into policy and practical methods – which have had a significant impact on architectural practice. What are the likely impacts of new standards on opportunities for individuals and companies? How might these patterns evolve in the future, and which forces will drive them in this direction? Panelists present examples of measurement’s impact on society, and discuss how we should determine which pressing issues to address first.


3:30 – 3:45 pm   Break


3:45 – 4:45 pm   Problem Statement Panel: New Systems of Practice, chaired by OfficeUS Partners

OfficeUS Partners, Seth Edwards (Case), Mabel Wilson, Jordan Carver -on line- WBYA (Who Builds your Architecture?)


What characteristics are needed for a measurement system to achieve social change, and how will such a system affect the work of architects? What are the current technological means that organize the work environment? Panelists and Partners discuss and propose the characteristics of an appropriate measurement system directed toward higher economic sustainability for those who produce or maintain the built environment, and derive a problem statement defining the system’s requirements. The statement will include consideration of the way such a mechanism will impact the role of design practice in society, and the opportunities for individuals and firms.


WBYA? will provide an overview of key issues and concepts in the understanding of labour conditions across the world and present strategies for action and response while providing methodologies to assess the cost and conditions of Labour with a case study from Labour Fundamentals.


5:00 – 6:00 pm   Cocktail Reception at U.S. Pavilion, Venice Biennale


Saturday, 20 September | WORKSHOP & DESIGN CHARRETTE | La Biennale di Venezia – Giardini – US Pavilion


10:30 am – 5:30 pm   Future Patterns in the Era of Context

Panelists, OfficeUS Partners, Collaborators


The entire group engages in a design charrette to discuss the parameters, agency and governance of standards which address issues of equity and sustainability. The group will outline the requirements for data, measurement, assessment and advocacy tools to inform and govern the design process. Impacts on workflows and spaces for individuals, teams, collaborators across the chain from design to construction to occupation will also be considered. The design response to the problem statement will incorporate specifics of the measurement system, a description of new modalities of practice, an investigation of the technology required, a high level road map for the evolution of the system based on current practice and design representations of the spaces needed to support the work.


Labor LEED at OfficeUS has been organized in partnership with Autodesk Inc.

This Schedule is Subject to change. Please visit us again for updates. 


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This workshop is part of the work and investigations of OfficeUS at the 2014 Venice Architecture Biennale. To learn more about the OfficeUS Issues go  here