We lead specialized teams that solve complex social issues through strategic design services.
Public Architecture's projects range from bringing healthcare to under served populations to creating policies that enable a new major university to support community vitality. We solve problems for organizations, foundations, and governments. By building teams with professionals from diverse backgrounds, we engage diverse tools and approaches, and offer each project a suite of tailored strategic services.
Public Architecture’s flagship 1+ program is the first and largest pro bono service network within the architecture and design professions. It challenges the design community worldwide to dedicate one percent or more of working hours to pro bono service.
1+ connects nonprofits with pro bono architecture and design services. The program has mobilized over $320MM in services to date.
17th and Castro Plaza
San Francisco, California
The design for the temporary installation of the 17th and Castro Plaza used simple and often salvaged – materials and methods in order to test, adjust, and evaluate the project, while gathering metrics and stakeholder interviews to inform the future permanent plaza design.
City of San Francisco
Laura Jerrard, Mike Murphy, Lola Feiger, Flora Grubb Gardens, High Caliper Growing, and Pacific Paper Tube, Inc.
Pilot Design for the 17th and Castro Plaza
Accessory Dwelling Unit
Santa Cruz, CA
Public Architecture’s ADU effort grew out of the efforts of our founding firm, Peterson Architects. We developed a more formal design campaign after learning from Peterson’s experience designing a low cost, high-performance 500 sq ft detached single-story ADU prototype. The City of Santa Cruz hired us in collaboration with Berkeley-based architect and planner Bruce Race of RACESTUDIO to produce a Garage Conversion Manual for the city’s ADU program. The manual featured eight prototypes, which were developed by Public Architecture, as well as assistance to understand technical issues, layout, and other topics relevant to the planning and design of a garage conversion project.
City of Santa Cruz
RACESTUDIO, Peterson Architects
ADU Manual and Garage Conversion Manual
City of Santa Cruz ADU Program
San Jose, CA; Detroit, MI
CITIES+ brings to municipalities the resources of Public Architecture’s 1+ program, the world’s largest pro bono design marketplace. It recruits pro bono design services to jumpstart civic ideas that need some sort of firming up—visualization, feasibility, program definition, and the like—to become fundable. In its pilot phase, CITIES+ is a hands-on effort. Public Architecture works directly with participating cities to identify and define projects, select design teams, and capture the outcomes in ways that will further propel the cities’ goals.
San Jose, California, and Detroit, Michigan, are the first CITIES+ members, participating through the generous support of the James L. Knight Foundation. Over the course of the three-year pilot period, which is designed for up to ten participating cities, Public Architecture is evaluating the potential for CITIES+ to become an online platform similar to the 1+—an ongoing, high-impact tool for civic advancement.
The 1+ connects nonprofits with over $60MM of pro bono design services annually. It comprises over 1600 firms, representing more than 18,000 architects, city planners, landscape architects, and other designers of the built environment who are committed to pro bono service for communities in need.
Day Labor Station
The Station is a simple, flexible structure that can be deployed at these informal day labor locations. It is a self-sustaining project that utilizes green materials and strategies and exists primarily off the grid. Our design is based on the realities of the ways in which the day labor system operates, and responds to the needs and desires of the day laborers themselves, as our clients. As such, the structure is flexible enough to serve various uses, including as an employment center, meeting space, and classroom.
National Day Labor Organizing Network
Day Labor Station Design Concept
Spontaneous Interventions, U.S. Pavilion at the 13th Venice International Architecture Biennale, 2012
Holcim Foundation Award for Sustainable Construction, Global Innovation Prize, 2009
Holcim Foundation Award for Sustainable Construction, Silver Prize, 2008
Design for the Other 90%, Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum, 2007
Holcim Foundation Award for Sustainable Construction
Design For Reuse Primer
The Design for Resuse Primer is part of an ongoing initiative by Public Architecture to bring reuse stories to light. Public Architecture acted as the main researcher as well as project mediators, overall spearheading this publication filled with 15 informative projects. By discussing the challenges and demonstrating the benefits of reclaimed materials, we hope to demystify reuse. The case studies represent a diverse mix of program type, location, size and client. Throughout this publication we use the multiple projects to demonstrate some important common lessons.
U.S. Green Building Council
Catholic University, California Integrated Waste Mangement Board, US EPA Reqion 9, San Francisco Department of the Environment, StopWatse.org as well as Editor Jennifer Roberts
Design For Reuse Primer
Alameda County, CA
Firehouse Clinics develop a more accessible model of health care provision by co-locating medical clinics on the grounds of existing fire station sites, thus leveraging existing assets like well-known locations, underutilized space, and the public’s trust. Public Architecture developed guidelines to help identify a focus set of high-priority fire station sites and matched pro bono services to design a clinic prototype.
Blue Shield; California HealthCare Foundation
Health Care Services Agency of Alameda County, CA; Mende Design; WRNS Studio; GLS Landscape | Architecture
Demographic and site analysis reported to six municipalities; facilitation of pro bono team to develop conceptual design guidelines
By the People: Designing a Better America, Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum, 2016
Alameda County Firehouse Clinic video
We collaborated with Cannon Design to develop a model facilities guide for KIPP elementary schools. Since 1994, the Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP) has worked to empower students from underserved communities by developing free, open-enrollment, college-preparatory public charter schools with a track record of preparing students for success in college and in life. To support KIPP’s diversity of needs and their extensive network, the publication included high level strategies for developing and improving elementary facilities such as aligning the school design plan with facilities needs, understanding space considerations, engaging in issues of sustainability, and providing links to more technical resources.
Lights on Market Street
San Francisco, California
The six-month installation marked Mid-Market’s gateways with three large-scale temporary lighting installations. The site-specific lighting displays were interactive, encouraging passersby to engage public space in new ways. Our role was to lead artist selection, concept development, property identification, and artwork fabrication and installation. To invest in change over the long term, the 1+ program directs pro bono design services for arts organizations that make the area their home.
San Francisco, CA
Built in conjunction with World Environment Day 2005, ScrapHouse illustrates the possibilities—as well as the challenges—of green building, recycling, and reuse. Over the course of just six weeks, a team of volunteers led by Public Architecture scoured dumps and scrap yards. A group of architects, landscape architects, lighting specialists, and metal fabricators repurposed the materials, giving them new life. And when it was all said and done, “scrap” had taken on a whole new meaning.
World Environment Day
Jensen Architects/Jensen & Macy Architects, Interstice Architects, CMG Landscape Architecture, Mende Design, Design at Noon, Matarozzi Pelsinger Builders, Patrick Buscovich & Associates, Shift Design Studio, AP Lighting, Melinda Morrison Lighting, and a team of builders, engineers, city officials and artists
ScrapHouse documentary film