Design Excellence Program
Last Updated 4/5/2012
Design Excellence Program
OBO defines Design Excellence as the provision of safe, secure, high quality, high performance facilities that provide the best value to all stakeholders and users. The goal is to create the most appropriate, practical, and inspiring buildings with spaces tailored to American diplomacy. Design Excellence addresses all aspects of OBO’s portfolio, from the conception of a new building to the operation of both new and existing facilities. By applying the Guiding Principles of Design Excellence, OBO will produce facilities that are outstanding in all respects. OBO project teams are challenged to apply all of these principles, coordinate their efforts, and deliver built embassy and consulate complexes that represent the best of American architecture, design, engineering, technology, sustainability, art, culture, and construction execution.
OBO began the process of developing its Design Excellence program when its leadership established the “Guiding Principles of Design Excellence in Diplomatic Facilities” in April 2010. These Guiding Principles are the conceptual foundation of OBO’s new Design Excellence initiative to improve the quality, safety, and performance of U.S. diplomatic facilities. It was important to start with broad and timeless goals, but it was understood that these principles were only the first step.
The Guiding Principles articulate the fundamental design goals of all of OBO's projects. These include the integration of purpose, function, flexibility, safety, security, sustainability, art, and maintainability. A full range of tools are applied throughout the design and construction process to ensure high quality and fully integrated results. OBO has redefined its resources, methods, and processes to promote effective integration, communication, and decision-making during project development and construction, and to support the maintenance and operations of completed facilities.
In 2010 OBO established seven internal Working Groups to examine its policies and procedures in light of the Guiding Principles, and to provide a newly established Steering Committee with concrete recommendations as to how to best integrate Design Excellence into all of OBO’s activities. These Working Groups were structured to represent the various phases through which many of OBO's projects proceed, from inception to ribbon-cutting and on to many years of functional use and representational value. Multidisciplinary Working Groups covered the following areas:
Overall Program Planning and Execution,
Project Planning and Development,
Design Goals and Standards,
Project Construction, and
Operations and Maintenance.
The concept of the working groups, as well as their broad and interdisciplinary membership from across OBO and other State Department bureaus, reflected the importance placed in having the program developed at the working level and by teams that represent the wide range of interests and expertise across OBO and the Department.
The Steering Committee included OBO’s core leadership, as well as the chairs of the Working Groups and the Director of Design Excellence and the Arts at the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA). The Working Groups provided an invaluable forum for colleagues to discuss goals, ideas, and experiences—an opportunity to examine OBO’s work and organization and to participate in shaping the direction of the organization for years to come.
The Steering Committee referred more than 60 recommendations to the Director of OBO for approval. This Guide further elaborates upon these recommendations. It conveys the commitment and support of OBO’s leadership in support of Design Excellence, and outlines the program’s general policies.
Delivering Design Excellence is a comprehensive process using the best methods, technologies, and staff abilities to design, construct, and maintain safe, functional, and inspiring diplomatic facilities. The ongoing integration of this process throughout OBO’s organizational structures, policies, and projects requires commitment by its leadership and staff, and strong, innovative technical support. Over the next 6 months, an Implementation Committee of OBO’s senior leadership will oversee the next phases of the program. OBO is working to consolidate and update its architectural standards, revise and expand its policy and procedures documentation, and continue to reach out to the private sector for input and to promote awareness of the program.
Each office, person, and action in OBO will contribute to the realization of excellence across the execution of OBO’s mission. Achieving excellence is everyone’s responsibility, and its successful implementation relies upon the best efforts of OBO’s staff, its State Department colleagues, and its private sector partners. The way in which the program was developed both reflects and reinforces that.