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May 2021

Build Back Better: A Design Professional's Responsibility
Can you feel the momentum of growth as we move forward in 2021? According to the AIA Architecture Billings Index (ABI), any score over 50 indicates growth and it recorded a score of 57.9 for April--the highest since before the Great Recession. As we increase building and billing, how can we make sure our industry does right by our clients and our communities to Build Back Better? Our guest columnist shares his thoughts on the topic.  
 Michael S. Ellegood, PE. has held positions ranging from project engineer through senior executive in major consulting engineering firms. He joined the public sector as an agency head, ultimately retiring as county engineer, public works director, and transportation director of Maricopa County, Arizona. Currently, Michael serves as senior consulting Engineer with E + E LLC. We support Michael's sentiments completely. Send a reply to let us know what you think!
photo  of Mark Zweig
"Build Back Better" is a catchy phrase that President Biden has used to describe his administration's efforts to rebuild the economy, our education system and our nation's infrastructure. But what does this mean? Does it mean"more cost effective" or "greener" or more inclusive"?  
In a recent article in Britain's "New Civil Engineer," It means all of these things and more. Author Claire Smith interviewed Britain's National Infrastructure Commission chair, Sadie Morgan and member, Madeleine Kessler, who said developing a sense of "placemaking" should be a central factor in every public project.  
Golden Gate Bridge,
San Francisco, CA
But what, does "placemaking" mean? Sadie Morgan said, "I think that well designed infrastructure gives places a sense of identity." Think about this: The Golden Gate Bridge gives San Francisco a signature identity, as does the New River Gorge Bridge in America's newest National Park. Anytime, we as design professionals, put infrastructure in place, we forever change that community. By designing with a sense of place in mind, we can enhance the community, the quality of life, property values and even public health and safety. 
New River Gorge Bridge, 
Victor, WV
Consider, for example, the lowly drainage channel. A typical strict engineering approach might call for a concrete lined trapezoidal channel. This channel, while efficient in moving storm water downstream rapidly, can cut off one community from its adjacent neighbors or, become a graffiti board and a place where old shopping carts go to die. This same channel, if properly designed, can become a park where adjacent communities can meet and interact, a location of pride and place. Perhaps this park with a drainage way built into it can become a nature habitat. 
This very scenario took place in recent history in Scottsdale, Arizona. Indian Bend Wash was a flood-prone perennial wash that regularly overflowed its banks and caused flooding of adjacent homes and properties. In the 1980's, it was decided to build flood control infrastructure, and highly skilled engineers designed the standard concrete-lined trapezoidal channel. Completely unacceptable to the good people of Scottsdale! The project was redesigned, this time with landscape architects and, parks planners working in partnership with engineers. The result was Indian Bend Wash Park, a long, linear park/flood channel that has become an integral part of Scottsdale's identity. 
Indian Bend Wash Park, 
Scottsdale, AZ
We as design professionals engage every day in building our community's future, whether it is a bridge, a building, a freeway, or even a correctional facility. These structures will last a long time and will imprint on their surroundings, shaping the community's future and even impacting the economies of the adjacent community. As design professionals, we have assumed an awesome responsibility, one that will outlive politicians, lawyers and accountants. Let's keep the permanence of our work in mind and "Build Back Better" with a sense of place, the people of the community and long-term value in mind.  
"Build Back Better" is not exclusive to design and engineering, it also means returing to the office or not, creating a healthy safe environment, finding the sense of normalcy in practicing your profession and the new or modified systems of managing a successful professional practice. We want you to diligently prepare for and achieve your practice goals. Let us help you with maintenance and management of your personal credentials and your corporate credentials, too. LS Credentialing Services/ would like to be a part of your firm's successful practice management. Schedule a consultation at 913-608-7880, send us a message, or visit to learn how we may assist you. 
"I hope to be able to focus on doing many of the taken-for-granted things I never knew I could miss so much.  Not one of the things I want to spend more time doing involves a phone, a ZOOM meeting, or a computer. Here's to seeing everyone in person."
Quote by:  Stephen Orr, Editor in Chief, BHG


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