Process: How to Create Community Buildings with Impact

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Our latest book, Process: How to Create Community Buildings with Impact, is designed to guide people through each stage of a public building project. 

Having helped local governments across Canada deliver these project for over four decades, we know how overwhelming the process can seem.

So, we decided to put everything we know into a book. Teach people the process, while sprinkling in our latest thinking. From budgets and site planning, to community engagement, the climate crisis, inclusive design, and measuring a project’s impact, this 208-page guide helps you understand the decisions you may need to make, and the tripping hazards to avoid.

A modern manual, 40 years in the making

Rather than feeling like a traditional coffee table architecture book, we want people to own this guide like a working manual. Keep it on your desk, take it to site, or thumb through it four years down the line when you’re deep into a project and stuck on a problem.

To encourage note-taking, we designed the layout with generous margins and adorned the pages with our own handwritten notes—reminiscent of architectural red-lining—to create a conversation with the reader and offer important advice and insights.

We chose an exposed spine to metaphorically represent the design process, revealing how the book is made, while a tactile canvas cover hearkens back to the nostalgia of machinery manuals and is intended to wear with use.

The copy and infographics are presented in neutral and grayscale tones, with flashes of full colour imagery to breathe life into case study spreads. Rather than a glossy finish, a warm, uncoated paper stock provides a smooth writing experience—a beautiful contrast to the rawness of the cover.

Forward bound

The result is a down-to-earth guide that makes an incredibly complex subject easy to understand, and easier to navigate. While we created this book with government clients in mind, we think it could be equally useful for the next generation of architects, or, anybody who wants to help create a built environment that’s kinder to people and kinder to the planet.

This book was written and designed by hcma, but wouldn’t have been possible without contributions from clients, industry colleagues, City staff, and elected officials. For that, we are incredibly grateful.

‘Process: How to Create Community Buildings with Impact’ was awarded a 2021 Adobe PRINT award for the cover design.

Purchase Your Copy

End credits

Design: hcma
Copy: hcma, with contributions from Kevin Pike and Alan Nicholson.
Printing: MET Fine Printers
Binding: Roswell Bookbinding
Photography: Gabriel Cabrera
Styling: Carl Ostberg

Design Process

I’m reading your new book over my lunch. It’s great to be able to capture hcma‘s unique values and the process that has defined hcma as leaders in the design of public buildings in such a clear and effective format.

Kudos to all who put this together! It reflects why we enjoy working with you and your team so much.

Christopher Philips, Principal, PFS Studio