How would you define "Quality"?

Hi All,

As we know, “quality” is a big component in the selection of project delivery.

The Architects Handbook of Professional Practice defines quality as “The demand for particular standards of performance in systems, finishes, enclosures, and other building elements”

It later says “projects with long anticipated life spans (e.g., civic or institutional buildings) may emphasize levels of quality for which construction costs and schedules must be calibrated accordingly. Sustainable design considerations—a building’s relationship to the environment, particularly its long-term use of energy and indoor environmental performance—are a significant component of its planned quality.” (AHPP, 512)

It seems to say that “quality” is linked to performance and not to aesthetic.

A hospital mechanical system should be built with quality
A LEED certified government building needs to be quality.
What about an art gallery in Manhattan?

Obviously, a manhattan art gallery would want to have crisp walls, sharp angles, and nice finishes. Would this mean that the client would prioritize “quality” in design, or is that word saved for designs that need to perform extremely well (as to not turn off someones ventilator or fail the LEED performance test.)

Welcome to the ARE Community @Xcdamianos ! Thank you for your question.

When considering a project, there are three primary components: cost, schedule, and quality. It is important to understand the relationships between these, as well as which is the driving factor for a particular project. If achieving a “high-quality” building is the priority, the project may require a higher budget and longer timeframe. If working with limited financial resources, the project may need to use “lower quality” materials.

In this regard, the term “quality” is a big bucket. As you’ve defined, it relates to a building’s performance, longevity, and environmental impacts. It also relates to “quality” of work - accuracy, meeting a client’s needs/expectations, and the standard of care. Think about quality assurance and quality control performed on a given project, or even an entire firm.

To your point, quality can definitely relate to aesthetic. Aesthetic, however, is subjective and difficult (or impossible) to measure, unlike performance or accuracy. Therefore, it is important to understand a client’s perspective on “quality” and what their expectations are for the given project, so that you can meet those expectations appropriately.

This is just my take on it, but I’d love to hear what others think. @coachhayleypugh or @coachphilipcolwell do you have any thoughts?

Kiara Galicinao, AIA, NCARB
Black Spectacles

1 Like