The “Global Warming” of the Judgment Process in Competitions for Public Buildings in Canada

By Carmela Cucuzzella and Jean-Pierre Chupin.

Published by The International Journal of Sustainability Policy and Practice

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This paper highlights the often-underestimated impact of environmental certifications on the judgment process with particular reference to contemporary Canadian competitions for public buildings. It argues that recent attention given to environmental certifications may lead to a potential crisis in the competition process. After establishing a clear distinction between evaluation and judgment, the article offers to reassess current practices through a theoretical model, which shifts from «judgment on design» to «judgment by design».
Despite its importance in the quality of public buildings, the judgment process in the architectural, landscape and urban planning competitions has been far too little theorized. In this theoretical vacuum, two new factors are currently being introduced that further complicate the operations of judgment: first the growing demand for diversification of jury members, heterogeneity understood (in the Canadian context) as a measure to ensure the diversification of viewpoints, and second, the marked increase in the introduction of environmental certifications (i.e. LEED, etc.). In this paper, the focus is on specific weaknesses in the judgment process regarding the adoption of the environmental certification LEED. The discussion is illustrated by examples taken from the Canadian context. It concludes with a call to reconsider judgment in architecture, which instead of being an operation of evaluation or even a form of criticism from outside the project, would rather be considered from inside the project. In other words, the collective act of judging participates to the elaboration of the project itself, as most constructive judgments would. This is not intended to be prescriptive but precisely descriptive as a more accurate theoretical model of a vast majority of practices. This paradigm shift would offer not only a way to theorize judgment in the domain of architecture, landscape and urbanism, but also a way to better contextualize environmental certifications in design thinking.

Keywords: Environmental Design, Environmental Certifications Competitions for Public Buildings, Evaluation, Qualitative Judgment, Design Thinking, Geographies of Architecture, Architectural and Urban Forms

The International Journal of Sustainability Policy and Practice, Volume 8, Issue 2, pp.53-67. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 3.909MB).

Dr. Carmela Cucuzzella

Assistant Professor, Design and Computation Arts, Concordia University, Montreal, Montreal

Prof. Jean-Pierre Chupin

Full Professor, Faculté de l’aménagement, Ecole d’architecture, Université de Montréal, Montreal

Professor Jean-Pierre Chupin holds the Chaire de recherche sur les concours et les pratiques contemporaines en architecture and is co-director of the Laboratoire d’étude de l’architecture potentielle de l’Université de Montréal (www.leap.umontreal.ca). Theoretician of architecture, Jean-Pierre Chupin has published numerous texts on reflective practices, on the epistemology of the project and the development of doctoral studies in architecture. The first volume of his research on the Analogie et théorie en architecture (De la vie, de la ville et de la conception, même) has been published by Swiss Infolio in the series « Projet et Théorie », which he co-directs with Professor Paolo Amaldi, from the University of Geneva. He also coordinates the design and update of the documentation database (which is a library of projects) of architectural competitions in Canada www.ccc.umontreal.ca and on the EUROPAN competitions www.arclab.umontreal.ca/EUROPAN-EN.