Safety is the primary focus of structural design of buildings and infrastructures for expected operational life. However, with the growing importance of performance and the relationship of structures to the environment, additional considerations must be made to achieve successful design. These considerations must assess the structure's impact on natural resources, long-term economic success and continuous operation following a significant abnormal loading event. Non-prescriptive approaches to design are becoming more important and perhaps will be common as we progress into the twenty-first century. These design approaches impart an improved understanding of behaviour, aides with economic predictions and increases efficiency of the building. Examples of non-prescriptive, performance-based approach to seismic design in both the United States and China will be presented as both regions represent major building markets utilising different methods for analysis and design. Specific building project examples will be described.