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The Committee on Design (COD) was founded to promote design excellence among members of the AIA, the broader design community, and the public at large, both nationally and internationally.

2024 COD Conferences


April 3-7 | 21c Hotel | Bentonville and Eureka Springs.

Connecting Cultures, Catalyzing Change: Northwest Arkansas in the Ozarks. View and download the conference materials: program guidebook, key takeaways and and video.


Thu, Oct 17 - Sat, Oct 26, 2024
Sao Paulo > Brasilia > Rio de Janerio.  Registration will open in early May.

2024 Sponsorships

Download the prospectus for Arkansas and Brazil opportunities.

  • 1.  Unfinished By Design - Embracing Non-Finito Architecture

    Posted 10 days ago

    Unfinished by Design - Embracing Open-Ended Architecture

    Notions of time and incompletion in architecture tap into two interrelated themes in which I am interested. The first is about designing for expansion, and the second is the idea of flexibility, something that was latent in historic typologies, but that was also expanded on in the 1960s in a more self-conscious way. (Nader Tehrani, architect, about the Spanish Venice Biennale pavilion titled "unfinished") 

    Lisa Oregioni - Non-Finito

    Recently I had the pleasure to discuss the "Architecture of the Unfinished" with the architect Lisa Oregioni who has made the unfinished, the non-finito a topic of her inquiry. Normally architects think of unfinished buildings as those in the stage before Substantial Completion or as abandoned projects where the money ran out or considered phased as in those concrete houses in the Global South where rebar sticking out of flat roofs indicates that the owner foresees an additional future floor.  Through Oregioni I realized.... READ FULL ARTICLE

    The article discusses the unfinished in the arts, "too big to finish", adaptability, sustainability, user agency, architecture without architects, biophilia and adaptive reuse.

    [Klaus] Philipsen FAIA
    Archplan Inc. Philipsen Architects
    Baltimore MD
    COD Brazil conference

  • 2.  RE: Unfinished By Design - Embracing Non-Finito Architecture

    Posted 9 days ago

    I don't think any architecture should ever be finished.  Architecture should always be amenable to change as its function and environment (physical, social and technological) changes.  That said, I am not in favor of a bland unspecific architecture that is always so loose a fit that it does not need to evolve.  Rather, I wish for an architecture that reflects history.  Some of my richest design resulted from converting existing work to new functions (or, for that matter, new circumstances of many sorts).

    This is another argument for adaptive reuse.  Adaptive reuse is an opportunity, not a burden.

    Mike Mense FAIA
    Architect, Writer, Planner, Painter
    mensenyc on Instagram
    Hamilton Heights, NYC and Snohomish WA

    COD Brazil conference

  • 3.  RE: Unfinished By Design - Embracing Non-Finito Architecture

    Posted 8 days ago

    I love working on older buildings and bring them up to current standards and new life, including some of my own design which come back to me through new homeowners or lease turnovers. Some people want to preserve buildings in amber, but they need to be able to change and grow well and appropriately with the times to be useful and viable. Stewart Brand's wonderful book, How Buildings Learn, What Happens After They're Built, should be required reading for building professionals. 

    Winchester, Virginia really came about when Fort Loudoun was built under the supervision of a young George Washington, one of a string of fortifications to protect the western frontier of the colonies in the 1750's. The fort was a huge public works project for the times with a log palisade. It was abandoned after the frontier was deemed secure. The logs were recycled as the material for many log cabins as the city prospered and became populated, the cabins sheltering the shops and homes of the settlers. These cabins were then enclosed and surrounded by later historic frame wood additions to these shops and houses. The log facades were sometimes revealed or more frequently buried within the frame facades in the 19th century as building methods and styles changed. Most recently these neighborhoods of modest houses became easy targets of gentrification and the houses were renovated so the log structures became revealed and became aesthetic highlights in the current iterations. 

    Edward R. Acker, AIA Emeritus
    Broomfield CO

    COD Brazil conference

  • 4.  RE: Unfinished By Design - Embracing Non-Finito Architecture

    Posted 6 days ago

    Thank you for sharing your insights on the renovation of old buildings and historical preservation. I completely agree with your view that buildings need to evolve and grow over time to maintain their utility and aesthetics. In my own practice, I have been involved in numerous renovation projects of old buildings, and each time, I feel the joy of bringing new life to these structures.

    I am particularly interested in the history of Winchester, Virginia, that you mentioned. Practical cases like this help us better understand the evolution and regeneration of buildings over time. This approach not only preserves the historical imprints but also allows buildings to meet the needs of modern life.

    Stuart Brand's "How Buildings Learn: What Happens After They're Built" is indeed a book worth recommending. It offers profound insights and examples that help us understand the dynamic and sustainable nature of buildings. As you mentioned, buildings need to be able to find new positions and functions in different times and environments.

    When we undertake architectural design and renovation, finding the balance between preserving historical integrity and meeting modern needs is an ongoing challenge. Your sharing has furthered my understanding that this is not just a matter of technology and design, but a deep understanding of history, culture, and human living patterns.

    Vice President of Planning and Design

    COD Brazil conference