This article was originally published by Common Edge as "To Fix Architecture, Fix the Design Crit." In architecture, the act of formally critiquing design is ubiquitous. The crit, as its called, is almost a rite of passage. And while the format of this practice is universal, its objective, goals and ultimate purpose are unfixed, beyond a broad and often vague imperative to make a given design better. This is a problem, because it leaves a foundation of the profession to take the form of whatever discussion happens to arise between a designer and a critic. If the expectation of empirical evidence for design decisions were introduced as the basis of a design crit, the cumulative effects of this change could improve the credibility of the entire discipline. Whether in a working group, a studio classroom or a client meeting, a staple of architectural design occurs when a proposal is evaluated by someone who didn’t create it. As architecture’s native and relatively unique form of peer review, this practice is useful, but also remarkable in lacking a burden of proof for the claims of designers or critics. Despite being widespread, the rigor of the design crit rests on a disconnected patchwork of participants’ personal experience, beliefs and speculation.
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