Working Together to Improve the Community: Consensus Building - Kristen Hess Featured on Podcast Raleigh

Kristen Hess

In June 2021, I was featured on “Podcast Raleigh,” a podcast that discusses Raleigh’s people and news. We discussed how my firm, HH Architecture, is actively working to improve the community of Raleigh through innovative architectural design.

In the episode, I spoke about my favorite part of being an architect: consensus-building and bringing people’s ideas forward. I see myself as the conductor of a symphony — making sure everyone and everything is working in harmony. People need to be represented, ideas need to be represented, and clients need to be heard. Our projects typically have numerous stakeholders. For me, it is crucial that each person’s thoughts and ideas are brought forward, as that is the only way to deliver a truly successful final product.

We also discussed my love for dynamic, inspired design. Each project involves design at every stage, which is a great tool for consensus-building among communities. The proactive work of merging ideas into a design brings everyone to the table like brainstorming — there are no “bad” ideas at that stage. We need to hear all ideas to find the best ones and create outstanding designs.

When speaking of inclusion and different perspectives coming together for a project, public projects do just that. It is especially interesting to involve younger generations when planning areas that are important to them, like public parks and community centers. People are often more open to creative architecture and unique designs when a project’s stakeholders are of different ages and backgrounds. In such cases, public dollars can translate into groundbreaking designs. I have found the most successful public projects are centered around consensus building and community involvement.

The design of communal spaces- like museums, community centers, and zoos- exemplify the impact of coming to a consensus because so many different people experience these facilities. Throughout the design process, we seek input from people who will work at or maintain the space, future frequent visitors, and anticipated one-time patrons. When we actively design to meet the needs of every group that will utilize communal facilities, we create more effective and germane spaces.

The task of designing public spaces is a great privilege and responsibility. Well-designed public spaces have positive impacts that can persist for generations. As such, involving every level of a project’s end-users in the design process is key in creating buildings with a positive legacy. Working towards unanimity in design is one way we can strengthen our communities.

You can listen to the podcast here.

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