Public Architecture is a key founder in the contemporary social impact design movement. We offer a venue where architects and designers can work for the public good.

Public Architecture provides the network and knowledge necessary to use the design of the built environment as a tool for social gain. Through our flagship program, 1+, we connect nonprofits with pro bono design services. We are a knowledge broker, matchmaker and advocate for socially meaningful design.

We frame social and environmental problems in the built environment and facilitate solutions in circumstances where both clients and financing must be imagined in new ways. We lead the pro bono design movement by asking design firms to formalize their commitment to give back professionally.


While building my architecture practice, I saw firsthand the positive impact of well-designed spaces on individuals and the health and dynamics of groups. At the same time, I found little support for architects who wanted to address the most challenging problems communities face. Filled with unbridled enthusiasm and convenient naivety, I started Public Architecture.

We conceived of a simple but scalable beginning, one that would start to shift the profession towards an underserved clientele. We asked every design professional in the country to pledge one percent or more of their working hours to pro bono service. The 1+ program became the flagship effort of Public Architecture and a vehicle for change.

Institutionalizing pro bono service is only the first step in a much larger vision for Public Architecture’s impact. Our highest goal is to leverage design of the built environment to strengthen communities and solve chronic societal problems.

Thanks to the extraordinary contribution, knowledge and ongoing support of our volunteers, past staff and board members—including John Cary, Liz Ogbu, Brad Leibin, Tim Culvahouse and so many others—Public Architecture has built a strong foundation to work to improve communities across the country.

– John Peterson, Founder