Bob Bacon’s Guiding Principles of Planning and Design

These guiding principles are universal in application, and are evident in works such as the Cochise Geronimo Clubhouse, the Boulders Resort, and in the boutique neighborhood of Windmill in North Scottsdale.

1. Climatically Responsive
The built environment must withstand weather and temperature variations specific to its geographic location. This ensures greater comfort to the occupants, improves operational efficiency of energy systems, and extends longevity of the building and its contents from damaging environmental effects.

2. Contextually Respectful
The visual character of a place significantly adds to the attraction, enjoyment, appreciation, and memories it creates. Good buildings respect and preserve the natural environment and its long-established neighborhoods.

3. Culturally Aware
Good buildings honor the culture of their place and its people, past and present, and thus positively contribute to the social fabric and cultural heritage of its setting.

4. Physically Durable
Good buildings maximize their useful life while minimizing their detrimental impacts on ecosystems; they must be suited for maximum utility, adaptability, efficiency, and durability.

5. Environmentally Responsible
Our long-term survival depends on the preservation of the planet’s biological and ecological health. Because both the construction and operation of the built environment consume natural resources and can be significant sources of toxins and pollutants, buildings should impose minimal negative impacts on the ecosystem while supporting its well-being.

6. Economically Viable
Successful projects must deliver the highest attainable levels of performance within an affordable budget that has reconciled project expectations with projected cost.

7. Socially Responsible
Social and communal by nature, we depend on the vitality and harmony of our communities for security, safety, comfort, and convenience. Our built environment can help bolster such social well-being.

8. Intellectually Enriching
Life is enriched by meaning and understanding: artists and designers can deliver both by clearly articulating the meaning, rationale, and purpose of their work thus deepening the community’s knowledge and appreciation of the built environment.

9. Psychologically Comforting
Good buildings are non-threatening and convey an intrinsic sense of safety, security, and general well-being. In addition to minimizing triggers of common fears, phobias, and anxieties, they should provide for common human needs such as visual and acoustic privacy.

10. Emotionally Calming
Good buildings foster a subliminal sense of serenity and tranquility by carefully avoiding discomfiting spectra of light, color, and sound and minimizing sensual distraction.

11. Humanly Proportioned
All spaces in good buildings are proportioned for human comfort based on the number of occupants, common body positions (standing, sitting, lying down), and levels of activity (reading, mingling, dancing) in each space. Good volumetric proportion does not constrain, overwhelm, or diminish the occupants’ comfort or their sense of personal significance.

12. Sensually Engaging
Exceptional environments go well beyond the visual field to consider all human senses and sensibilities: no environmental quality is exempted from its potential impact on ambiance.

13. Materially Honorable
Materials must not be used in contradiction of their nature, for example: small modular elements, such as bricks and stones naturally form walls or floors when stacked vertically or set horizontally side-by-side. Spanning an opening without the additional support of a wood, steel, or a concrete beam, requires that bricks and stones be corbeled or arched. In the absence of these, the use of bricks as a flat beam contradicts what our experience has taught us about gravity.

14. Appropriate Visual Strength
The subliminal contradictions that occur from the appearance of inadequate physical support, such as the perceived implausibility of thin posts supporting a large solid mass can be discomfiting for some and can rise to the level of fear in others. Conversely, appropriate visible strength is comforting and promotes an assurance of safety.

15. Intrinsic Clarity
Because people are comforted by clarity and discomforted by confusion, uncertainty, and ambiguity, good buildings clearly reveal the identity, purpose and intent of each material, component, assembly, and space.

16. Functionally Convenient
Most people equate convenience with comfort, and many consider it a reflection of their accomplishment and the luxury of their lifestyle. Convenience provides happiness in the moment, while practicality accounts for the resources expended in its accomplishment.

17. Practical
Practicality is optimal convenience and maximum longevity achieved with minimal resource consumption, maintenance and waste.