NEUMANN MONSON ARCHITECTS

Design Quality critiquing a design
Meet the Design Quality Team

Architects wear many hats. Their job is to manage costs, lead you through the design and construction process, and coordinate with consultants and vendors. But perhaps most importantly, architects find design solutions that work for your organization and give you the greatest value for your dollar. 

We find that a collaborative, engaging design process creates the best results. Our Design Quality team—known as DQ—elevates our work through critiques, brainstorming sessions, and educational opportunities. They are one of our four self-managed teams that engage with every project we undertake. 

In this article, we will discuss the history of the Design Quality team, their process, and how their work benefits your project. 

History of the Design Quality Team 

The Design Quality team began as an employee-led effort to elevate our design work. Previously, our project teams were more siloed, leading to inconsistent designs. 

Through regular critiques, the Design Quality team established more cohesive designs across our two locations, leading to greater industry recognition. Since the team’s start in 2016, we have become the most awarded firm in the state.  

Beyond industry recognition, the Design Quality team has helped us provide more value to our clients. Internal collaboration leads to designs that better serve their purpose—providing more functional spaces for people to live, work, play, and learn.  

The Design Critique Process 

Each Neumann Monson project goes through at least one formal critique with the Design Quality team. Team members evaluate the design and determine how well it meets its objectives or responds to occupants’ needs.  

These critiques resemble those in architecture school, creating a more academic studio culture. The goal is to refine the design by harmonizing essential elements and finding ways to provide value without adding costs.  

Informal reviews also occur throughout a project’s lifecycle. Design Quality team members assist project teams whenever they need an additional set of eyes. This collaborative process leads to more thoughtful and effective solutions. 

Along with project critiques, the Design Quality team leads internal brainstorming sessions. Once a project is underway, the team asks for input from everyone in our offices (including the non-designers!). These sessions help us think outside the box and find creative ways to approach complex problems. 

Design critiques and brainstorming sessions occur outside billable time. You get the knowledge of our entire team—free of charge. 

design critique with post-it notes

Informal design critiques help us find creative ways to solve complex problems.

Design Quality and Sustainability 

Our four self-managed teams contribute to every project. The Green Team oversees our sustainability efforts, including our participation in the American Institute of Architect’s (AIA) 2030 Commitment. The Client Experience team manages our client listening and feedback program, and the Quality Assurance team reviews all contract documents to reduce the likelihood of errors and omissions

While every team has its own purpose, the teams are unified under Neumann Monson’s mission and collaborate to improve our service. The Design Quality and the Sustainability teams work closely to align projects with the AIA’s Framework for Design Excellence

The Framework outlines ten principles for good design: 

  • Integration 
  • Equitable communities 
  • Ecosystems 
  • Water 
  • Economy 
  • Energy 
  • Wellbeing 
  • Resources 
  • Change 
  • Discovery 

When followed, these principles produce healthy, sustainable buildings that integrate into their community context. The Framework helps establish a shared passion for creating spaces that benefit occupants while minimizing negative environmental impacts.  

How the Design Quality Team Benefits Your Project 

We see Client Experience and Design Quality as two branches of the same tree. Design critiques and collaborative ideation sessions lead to solutions that improve building performance, function, and aesthetics. Additionally, our continuous push toward simplification results in buildings that are easier to maintain and have lower long-term costs. 

Want to Learn More? 

Design is our passion, which is why we devote non-billable time to continuously elevate the quality of work. Our Design Quality team creates a more vibrant studio culture and improves our service. Their critiques help us simplify our designs, giving you the greatest long-term value. 

Now that you better understand our design process, learn about the visualization tools you will encounter when working with an architect.