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An Introduction to the AIA Framework for Design Excellence

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Propel your practice’s success with the AIA Framework for Design Excellence—the defining 10 principles of design excellence in the 21st century. In this introductory course, you will learn the origin, evolution, and significance of each of the framework’s principles and examine how they advance progress toward a zero-carbon, healthy, just, resilient, and equitable built environment. Learn from real-world case studies showcasing successful implementations across diverse firms and project types. Plus, you’ll learn how to navigate the valuable online resources for each of the 10 principles to use in your design process for future projects.

Course expires on 2/04/2027.

Learning Objectives


Describe the AIA Framework for Design Excellence, its origins, evolution, and importance, and the outcomes that it can achieve—including protecting public health, safety, and welfare.


Identify the principles of the Framework for Design Excellence, how they relate to each other, and the overall design process.


Evaluate a mix of case studies exploring how the framework and its principles have been implemented in different firms, project types, and sizes.


Identify the available online resources to help with your future projects.

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Allison Anderson is recognized for civic projects which are carefully crafted and inherently defensible against climate challenges. After Hurricane Katrina devastated her community, designs for recovery focused attention on sustainability, adaptation, and resilience. Her firm, unabridged Architecture, has designed nine shelters for the community and first responders, meeting FEMA 361 guidelines for wind- and impact-resistance, and self-sufficiency during an emergency; and was selected as one of ten teams for Rebuild by Design to create resilient urban planning solutions in Hurricane Sandy-affected areas.

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Nathan Kipnis, FAIA, LEED BD+C is the principal of Kipnis Architecture + Planning, recognized as one of Chicago’s premier green and sustainable architectural practices. Mr. Kipnis received his Master of Architecture with an emphasis in Energy Conscious Design from Arizona State University in 1985 and his undergraduate Bachelor of Environmental Design from the University of Colorado at Boulder in 1983.

Mr. Kipnis currently serves on the National AIA’s 2030 Commitment Working Group to represent the small practice area and to help encourage smaller firms to join the 2030 Commitment. Additionally, Mr. Kipnis was enlisted early on in the formation of the Chicago 2030 Commitment Working Group Committee to assist with the development of the 2030 Reporting Tool. He helps promote the benefits of the 2030 Commitment though various outreach methods including extensive lectures and webinars.

Mr. Kipnis also lectures frequently on topics related to sustainable design, historically derived climatically based architectural design, and renewable energy. He has been an invited speaker at numerous professional and academic venues and his opinions and projects have been extensively sought for publication both locally and nationally. Additionally, through his work with Citizens' Greener Evanston, Mr. Kipnis was instrumental in developing the concept of the Evanston offshore wind park. Furthermore, Mr. Kipnis has consulted with the Cambridge based nonprofit Civil Society Institute where he helped craft the American Clean Energy Agenda (ACEA), whose goal is to promote a renewable energy future that goes beyond “business as usual”.