Perkins & Will

Our Living Design Philosophy Seamlessly Incorporates Sustainability




Through research, teaching and practice, Perkins and Will’s Minneapolis Studio has actively worked to recognize, identify and alter a design process that was stifling sustainable innovation. Project by project, they deliberatively re-shaped collaborative design teams to follow a holistic interdisciplinary integrative design process that has transformed how high-performance buildings engage with people, how sustainable buildings fit with bio-diverse environments and how design best serves the greater public good. Through this effort, they have achieved some exceptional performance metrics with strong award-winning design solutions that speak to their communities.

Perkins and Will has been at the vanguard of the sustainability movement for nearly a quarter of a century. Passionate about designing places where human life thrives and entire ecosystems flourish, they’ve developed a reputation for challenging the status quo and blazing trails into uncharted territory.

Why? Because, as global weather patterns change and trigger more extreme events, Perkins and Will takes these risks seriously. They know climate change exacerbates natural disasters and existing chronic stressors within communities. In response, they’re researching, developing, and adapting strategies to increase the resilience of buildings and communities so that—even in the face of acute and chronic events—they survive, recover, grow, and flourish.

Witnessing the June 20, 2012 extreme rain event in Duluth led to their innovative work on REsiLience Design Guidelines (RELi). Damage from that torrent of water and the damage from other contemporaneous extreme weather events like superstorm Sandy convinced them that climate change was no longer just a concern for the future, but a crisis happening in real-time.

RELi became a design revolution/response in a box. It’s comprehensive, covering everything from sea level rise and extreme weather to social cohesion and equity along with all the classic sustainability topics like energy, water and materials. It is an actionable checklist that helps designers create resilient communities, buildings, and infrastructure to withstand shock. In 2018, RELi was adopted by the U.S. Green Building Council, becoming the world’s first resilient design standard.

Perkins and Will have historically been leaders in driving green policy change and developing new industry standards, like RELi to effect change. It’s part of their DNA to responsibly shape the space they practice within.

Today, Perkins and Will’s Minneapolis Studio continues that trajectory by advancing integrated systems thinking with their emergent Living Design philosophy. Living Design seamlessly incorporates sustainability, resilience, regeneration, inclusion, and well-being into every project helping sustain life on earth—today, tomorrow, and beyond.

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