David Greusel: Architecture for Human Flourishing

Jeff Haanen

In Denver, the built environment affects our quality of life every day—whether it’s traffic clogging the drive to Boulder, controversial elements of Denver International Airport’s design (which conspiracy theorists believe is home to a global shadow government) or Red Rocks Amphitheater, whose natural beauty and functional design make it one of the premiere amphitheaters in the world. The built environment can enchant or enrage, so how can a Christian worldview shape our approach to design?

Recently, renowned architect David Greusel visited DIFW’s Architecture Forum to answer two critical questions:

  • How does good design contribute to an environment in which “Everyone has the resources and the means to become their own best self”? (Andy Crouch)
  • What would architecture for human flourishing look like?

Greusel suggested that good design flows from the values, or adjectives, that guide the designer. “As an architect, the most important thing I can do about my work is deciding what my adjectives are,” he explained. “Adjectives are important to how we think about our work, describe it, characterize it, and ultimately how we do our work.”

Greusel challenged designers to shift their focus from the adjectives espoused by many architecture schools, which teach that design should be empirical, rational, objective, universal, abstract, progressive, and autonomous, to more “human centered design”, which encourages a more intuitive, generous, personal, local, and humble style.

Take a few moments to watch the videos of David's presentation and the panel discussion that followed. Then consider the following questions:

  • Which structures or settings in the Denver area best help people thrive?
  • What adjectives would you use to describe your contribution to the built environment?
  • How could a Christian worldview inform your approach to design?


Jeff Haanen

Jeff Haanen is a writer and entrepreneur. He founded Denver Institute for Faith & Work, a community of conveners, teachers and learners offering experiences and educational resources on the gospel, work, and community renewal. He is the author of An Uncommon Guide to Retirement: Finding God’s Purpose for the Next Season of Life and an upcoming two-book series on spiritual formation, vocation, and the working class for Intervarsity Press. He lives with his wife and four daughters in Denver and attends Wellspring Church in Englewood, Colorado.