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The Public Dialogue - A Blog by Public Architecture
06.27.14 Field Notes

Public Architecture is honored to contribute to the AIA Foundation’s National Resilience Program in collaboration with Architecture for Humanity. We strongly believe that architects, designers and allied experts have a collaborative and proactive role to play in creating community-based resiliency strategies. Public Architecture comes to this alliance prepared to leverage The 1% network of more than 15,000 designers nationwide, to strengthen community resiliency through their firm’s 1% pro bono design service pledge.

On Thursday, June 26, 2014, the AIA Foundation issued the following press release in celebration of this new initiative:

The AIA Foundation (AIAF), a nonprofit philanthropic extension of the American Institute of Architects (AIA), today announced the site of AIAF’s first Regional Resilience Design Studio, funded with an initial $250,000 social impact investment by Benjamin Moore & Co.


Courtesy of Architecture For Humanity

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05.14.14 Resources

In 2011, we published our Sustainability Guide for Nonprofits, a resource introducing the benefits of green design to the operations and facilities of nonprofit organizations.  Read more

10.09.13 Events

By Ezra Mauer

As part of the Architecture and the City Festival, Resilient SF explored resiliency strategies meant to aid San Francisco’s ability to withstand future environmental and social challenges.  Public Architecture and Shelter Media Project, with support from the Holcim Awards for Sustainable Construction, invited CMG Landscape Architecture, David Baker Architects, and Perkins + Will San Francisco to propose innovative solutions that focused on systemic and social opportunities rather than large infrastructural endeavors.  At the September 18th event, the three firms presented their proposals.  A stimulating panel discussion moderated by Public Architecture Founder and President, John Peterson, followed the conclusion of the presentations.  Panelists included Degenkolb Engineers Chairman, Chris Poland, strategist, designer and current Gensler Fellow, Laura Weiss, and City of San Francisco Planning Director John Rahaim.

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08.29.13 Events

If we are to ensure there is a strong and flexible social fabric in preparation for the next significant earthquake or natural disaster, innovating for community resilience has never been more critical.

Public Architecture and Shelter Media Project have invited architects and allied experts to play a collaborative and proactive role in creating community-based resiliency strategies that are implementable, accessible and participatory.

The strategies will be presented during the esteemed Architecture and the City Festival in San Francisco, celebrating its 10th anniversary this September.  With 20,000 attendees, and presented by the AIA San Francisco and the Center for Architecture + Design, the festival is the premiere architecture and design festival in the Bay Area and the largest of its kind in the nation.

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06.07.13 Resources

Public Architecture is pleased to release Hawaii Wildlife Center, the third in an on-going series of case studies that feature projects by the American Institute of Architects members participating in The 1% program who are making pro bono service an integral part of design practice. The Hawaii Wildlife Center, located on the Big Island, is dedicated to protecting, conserving, and aiding in the recovery of Hawaii’s native wildlife through hands-on treatment, research, training, science education and cultural programs. Boston based Ruhl Walker Architects designed HWC’s state-of-the-art care and rehabilitation facility for native animals. Read more

06.06.13 Resources

Public Architecture, in partnership with AIA San Francisco and Interface, is proud to inaugurate a national award recognizing exemplary projects that serve the public good. The Social Impact Design Award is a unique opportunity for architects and designers to share the impact of their work and to promote the significant relationship between quality design and social outcomes.

This national award is being run in conjunction with AIA San Francisco’s Constructed Realities awards program. Submissions will be accepted until July 18, 2013. For more information and to submit, click here. Read more

03.28.13 Events

By Jennifer Lau

This weekend we had the pleasure of attending the thirteenth annual Structures For Inclusion conference at the University of Minnesota College of Design. This year’s theme—“Dignifying Design”—was a fitting conclusion to the first ever Public Interest Design Week (#PIDWeek) and featured presentations by some of the most inspirational leaders in the field today, including many friends, colleagues, and former Public Architecture staff. Read more

03.13.13 Events

By Jennifer Lau

From February 27 to March 1, 2013 at the Headlands Center for the Arts in Sausalito, California, Public Architecture convened leaders from government, design, nonprofit organizations, and philanthropy at the second annual Design Access Summit. Design Access is an opportunity for leaders within the aforementioned sectors to acknowledge the profound impact of the design of the built environment on human and environmental health, economic prosperity, and social justice, as well as to advance our collective ability to leverage the design of the built environment as a tool for social gain. Read more

02.19.13 Events

This month Interface and Universal Fibers teamed up to support Public Architecture’s 1% program and designers who want to do meaningful work at work. Thanks to supporters like you, we’re more than halfway to our goal of $20,000—and we still have a week to go!

Between now and February 25th, all you need to do is sharelove, and retweet stories with the everyONE logo and/or hashtag (#IFeveryONE) to make the equivalent of a $2 donation to Public Architecture. With a simple click, you can help us show the world how everyONE in the design community can make a difference.

Check out the everyONE campaign images below for a dose of inspiration and the chance to help us expand pro bono design resources and opportunities. Whether one image stands out—or you love all six—simply click the images below to start sharing and help us reach our $20,000 goal!

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01.31.13 Events

The 2013 Call for Applications has been annouced by The American Architectural Foundation (AAF) for their Sustainable Cities Design Academy (SCDA).

SCDA connects project teams and multi-disciplinary sustainable design experts through highly interactive design workshops that help project teams advance their green infrastructure and community development goals.

Successful applicants will join AAF for one of two design workshops in Washington, DC:

June 5-7, 2013

September 11-13, 2013

To learn more and download the application, click here. Public-private partnership project teams are encouraged to apply.

To help support and advance good sustainable design practices, the American Architectural Foundation created the Sustainable Cities Design Academy (SCDA) in 2009. This initiative provides leadership development and technical assistance to local community leaders who are engaged in planning a sustainable building project in their community. Through SCDA, AAF seeks to educate, inspire, and support these local government, business, and community leaders and developers. SCDA also provides them with the resources and tools they need to develop long-term solutions for their communities.


12.21.12 Field Notes

By John Peterson

This year Public Architecture turned ten years old.  As we continue to quietly work through this milestone, I thought I would share with you why each day I am both gratified by what we have achieved and humbled by what remains to be done.

I founded Public Architecture in response to the desire of myself and others in my private practice to do, simply, meaningful work at work.  We had a vision: empowering designers to not only conceive of solutions on behalf of clients but to identify and address challenges on behalf of larger communities.  Yet we soon realized that, unlike the legal and medical professions, the design community then had yet to establish industry-wide practices like pro bono to serve and impact those most in need.  In what sometimes seems like a moment of naïve enthusiasm, we created Public Architecture and programs like The 1% in an attempt to address this unmet opportunity, and here we are today.

Of course, to summarize the previous decade in a few sentences would be to understate the efforts of the many staff, volunteers, and Board members whose talents and hard work have been critical to our success.  Through their efforts and the commitment of likeminded designers, it is difficult to deny that our original vision—a world where designers could serve the public good through sustainable, scalable practices—is well underway.

Today, The 1% includes more than 1100 firms who have committed at least 1% of their billable hours to pro bono design services; more than 15,000 designers now provide a combined $42 million dollars’ worth of design services each year.  Both the American Institute of Architects (AIA) and the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) are partnering with The 1% to encourage their members to be a part of this transformation.

I sometimes describe Public Architecture as a hundred year organization; in reality, longevity only hints at the scope of what we seek to achieve.  We know that the questions we need to answer will change and evolve over time as this practice continues to take hold.  Already, we have begun to move from “How can we get firms and designers to make pro bono a part of their practice?” to “How can we help firms and designers be more effective change agents in underserved communities?”  Yet the basic principles of our work remain the same.  Quality, scale, accessibility, sustainability—these values are core to what we do and to our vision for all communities across the nation.

If you have helped Public Architecture to be a better organization in the past ten years, thank you. If you are helping us to be a better organization now or in the future, thank you.

Consider supporting us through one or more of the following:

Make a donation
Public Architecture has learned to do a lot with a little, but imagine what we could do with even a small increase in funding. For every $1 donated, Public Architecture can leverage $60 of pro bono design services in communities across the country. Click here to make a donation.
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11.01.12 Events

For every person that visits their booth in the Exhibit Hall at Greenbuild, Shaw Contract Group will donate a dollar to one of three select nonprofits of the visitor’s choice. We are so excited that Shaw has chosen us to be one of the beneficiaries of this generous Greenbuild campaign.

Shaw has been a long time supporter of Public Architecture, most recently through the Design Access Summit and as a member of The 1% Collection.

If you are going to Greenbuild, head over to Shaw on the expo floor and select Public Architecture as your nonprofit of choice!

Greenbuild will be held from November 14-16, 2012 in San Francisco. For further information about the event, visit