03.25.14 Field Notes

Public Architecture is seeking full-time Summer Associate(s) to work closely with and support Public Architecture’s professional staff.

Past projects led by Summer Associates have included conducting interviews about pro bono design with some of the country’s top architects and developing a program for material reuse within The 1% program.  While specific projects may vary based on candidate’s skills and interests, all Summer Associate projects will likely involve significant research, writing, and communications support.  As part of the Public Architecture team, Summer Associates play an integral role in advancing key initiatives to realize our mission more broadly.

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03.18.14 Events

Updated 3/29: See what makes Design Access such a unique and intimate experience — event photos now available on Facebook.


“I think what you’ve done is shown us how to take a chance – a collective chance.”

Randy Gragg, Executive Director, University of Oregon, John Yeon Center for Architectural Studies

On February 19-21, Public Architecture hosted our third annual Design Access Summit, convening national leaders in design, philanthropy, business, government, and the nonprofit sector to discuss new ways of leveraging the design of the built environment for social impact.  In partnership with Ford Foundation, this year’s summit focused on the role that “anchor institutions” – institutions with a vested interest and presence in their specific city or region, such as universities and hospitals – can play in promoting the well-being of local, low-income communities.  Design Access participants explored planning activities, design processes, policy-making, and leadership actions that can better incorporate the interests of low-income communities into the design of anchor institutions.

“[Design Access] brought together highly skilled, diverse, and passionate leaders with practical on-the-ground experience to better understand the business and political realities of anchor institutions and the equity issues facing low-income populations – all within a safe place for meaningful dialogue.”

Salem Reiner, Associate Director of Economic Development, Office of the President, Johns Hopkins University

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03.18.14 Resources

Public Architecture is pleased to release Cabin Project, the fourth 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.  Shadow Hills Riding Club, located in the northern Los Angeles neighborhood of Shadow Hills, offers therapeutic riding programming for people with mental or physical disabilities in which horses are used to facilitate healing and growth.  Staff from the Architecture + Civic Engagement (ACE) Center at Woodbury University’s School of Architecture led a design build studio in which architecture students designed and constructed residential cabins for military veterans in support of Shadow Hills’ Saddles for Soldiers program.

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03.13.14 Events

By Amy Ress

Public Architecture and Shelter Media Project are delighted to share our Resilient SF videos series. This new video series explores how three design teams directed their expertise to increase San Francisco’s ability to be adaptable and flexible in times of great stress, as well as provide a benefit for citizens today.

David Baker Architects - Local Cache


Perkins + Will - San Francisco - RDoC


CMG Landscape Architecture - Golden Gate Park: A Sustainable Retrofit

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12.10.13 Resources

By Ezra Mauer

Public Architecture is thrilled to announce the release of the 2012/2013 Public Interest Design Externship report. The PID program, run by the Center for Sustainable Development within the School of architecture at the University of Texas at Austin, explores how built environments are received by the communities they serve. During the summer externship, students learned the analytic techniques of post-occupancy analysis with faculty at UT Austin. They subsequently spent time with Public Architecture collecting and interpreting data related to select projects in San Francisco in 2012 and Austin in 2013.

The report is a 171-page, full-color publication featuring five case studies on design intent and three post-occupancy evaluations – and is free to download. Public Architecture President, John Peterson, and UT Austin Architecture professor and Director of the Sustainable Design Program, Steven A. Moore, penned the report’s introduction. We highly encourage you to take a look at this impressive and compelling piece of work.

12.03.13 Field Notes

Final Proposal for Waller Creek Conservancy | Act Now!

In celebration of #GivingTuesday, we’re sharing five of our favorite ways that friends of Public Architecture can support our mission to leverage the design of the built environment as a tool for social gain. Whether you’re a longtime donor or a new fan of our work, your support in all forms is critical to our continued success and growth:

  • Make a donation. Making a gift to Public Architecture is the single easiest way to support our organization. Just this morning, we received a holiday donation from our friends at Teknion—longtime supporters of Public Architecture and annual sponsors of our Design Access Summit. This year, Teknion even rewarded each leader behind the Summit’s winning proposal (learn more here) with their very own RBT chair!

Teknion RBT Chair

  • Spec socially responsible products. When you choose products from The 1% Collection, our partners donate 1% of sales to Public Architecture. From Shaw Contract Group’s Homage collection to Skyline Design’s 5+ Collection by Michael Graves, exceeding your design expectations has never been easier—or more rewarding.
  • Stock up on new software. #BlackFriday and #CyberMonday are just behind us, but Novedge is offering #AutoCAD 2014 at a great price—and donating $200 per each new copy to Public Architecture.
  • Join us. Whether you’re a firm looking for ways to give back or a nonprofit in need of design services, The 1% pro bono design platform offers access to projects and resources to make the most of your pro bono pledge. And we’re always looking for great volunteers and interns to join our ranks—your time, energy, and support are invaluable to us.

And last but not least:

  • Follow #GRATEFULx13. Between now and December 31st, we’re counting down our top thirteen highlights of 2013. Join the countdown on Facebook and Twitter, and share your commitment to social impact design with your friends and family this holiday season!


12.02.13 Field Notes

In September, we challenged three design firms to propose resiliency strategies focused on San Francisco’s ability to withstand its next natural disaster. CMG Landscape Architecture, David Baker Architects, and Perkins + Will San Francisco presented innovative solutions that focused on systemic and social opportunities. Recently, KQED Quest, through its lens of regional sustainability issues, brought the topic of resiliency and disaster preparedness to the forefront:

Mention sleeping in Golden Gate Park, and most people think of homelessness. But the idea that San Francisco’s most famous park could be used as an emergency shelter for thousands of victims after a major earthquake – as it was after the 1906 earthquake – is again resurfacing.

Click here to read the rest of their article covering our recent Resilient San Francisco event and CMG Landscape Architecture’s Camp The Park proposal.

11.14.13 Field Notes

Public Architecture is thrilled to announce a new partnership with Novedge, who is making it easier than ever to support the efforts of The 1% pro bono design program. For every new seat of AutoCAD 2014 sold, Novedge will contribute $200 to Public Architecture. In the words of Franco Folini, Co-Founder and President of Novedge: “It’s a win-win situation for everyone involved.” Learn more about the origins of this program–and the origins of both Public Architecture and Novedge–below, and don’t forget to visit Novedge today to support the efforts of social impact designers nationwide.

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11.05.13 Field Notes

We’re thrilled to announce that the 4th International Holcim Awards is open for entries! Since 2003, the Holcim Foundation for Sustainable Construction has led the field in recognizing innovative projects and future-oriented concepts from architects and designers worldwide. No vision is too big and no project is too small. From now to March 24, 2014, the Holcim Awards is accepting submissions that envision a more sustainable and equitable built environment for all.

Holcim Awards - Open Now For Entries

All of us at Public Architecture know how transformative the Holcim Awards can be in taking a project from vision to reality. Our Day Labor Station received two Holcim Awards—the North America Silver Prize in 2008 and the Global “Innovation” Prize in 2009—and Holcim continues to be a strong supporter and advocate of our efforts. Most recently, the Holcim Foundation supported Public Architecture’s ResilientSF Design Challenge, engaging designers at Perkins + Will, CMG Landscape Architecture, and David Baker Architects to envision solutions for a more resilient San Francisco.

So why apply for the Holcim Awards?

  • You may be working on a potential winner right now. As friends and partners of Public Architecture, you’ve already made a significant investment in promoting socially responsible and sustainable design. Through the Holcim Awards, you can share your research, designs, and methodologies with an appreciative audience while advancing the practice of social impact design worldwide.
  • Join forward-thinking architects and designers from around the world. From students and young professionals to established firms like Skidmore, Owings, & Merrill, the Holcim Awards attracts submissions from visionary practitioners and leaders around the world. Winners from the five regional competitions in Europe, North America, Latin America, Africa Middle East, and Asia Pacific in 2014 will then advance to the Global Holcim Awards in 2015.
  • Share more than projects—share values, too. Together with its internationally renowned partner universities, the Holcim Foundation has developed five target issues for evaluating Awards: Progress, People, Planet, Prosperity, and Proficiency. Learn more about Holcim’s high standards of innovation, sustainability, and social responsibility here.
  • Impact matters. From small projects like our own Day Labor Station to large projects like an urban remediation and civic infrastructure hub in São Paulo, Brazil, the independent juries of the Holcim Awards know that innovation and transformation happen at many different scales.
  • Gain real recognition, with real rewards. Not only is the Holcim Awards an opportunity to showcase your work on an international stage, but Award winners also receive a significant cash prize. Altogether, the Foundation awards a total of $2 million to winning projects and designers each cycle.

Interested? Learn more about the Awards, including details about project eligibility, competition levels, and evaluation criteria, at the Holcim Awards website.

Have a project in mind? Download the step-by-step application guide here to get a head start!

Questions? Connect with the Holcim Awards via Facebook and Twitter (@HolcimAwardsUS).

Happy applying!


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10.23.13 Resources

By Ezra Mauer

This week is an exciting one for us at Public Architecture: it is Pro Bono Week.  Started by the American Bar Association and now championed by the Taproot Foundation, Pro Bono Week is a celebration of the pro bono ethic across all professions that use their talents to make a difference.  There are several events taking place this week that we’re excited to report about:

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10.16.13 Resources

Public Architecture, in collaboration with our partners at the Harvard Business School has launched the fourth 1% Nonprofit Survey.

Our most comprehensive survey to date will provide unique insight into the nonprofit experience in The 1% program as well as the design process. The survey is an important tool for growth and improvement of The 1% program, in particular The 1% matching process that facilitates connecting nonprofits with designers who have made a pledge to provide pro bono service for underserved communities.

We encourage all nonprofits participating in The 1% program to complete the survey, regardless of the status of your project or the matching process.

The survey consists of five parts and takes about 20 minutes to complete. Progress can be saved for up to one week using the bookmarking functionality. Results for the survey will be published after its closing. Look for them in early 2014.

The survey is accessible here.

Or copy and paste the link below into your browser:


As an incentive our friends at Humanscale are generously donating the high-performing and very ergonomic Diffrient Smart Chair to be awarded to one randomly selected respondent at the survey close.

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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