“The design has yet to begin.”

September 22, 2010 at 8:04 pm 1 comment

The description for the Architecture for Change Summit was more of a rally cry, urging potential registrants to “join architects, developers and affordable housing activists to address the affordable housing crisis.” It was incredibly appropriate that almost all of the speakers presented lectures about actionable strategies for change.

One of these speakers was Bryan Bell, founder and executive director of Design Corps. Bell made reference to the work of Howard Gardner, whose research spans topics such as ethics, the human mind, and educational performance. One gem from Gardner’s website is “the key to good work is responsibility—taking ownership for one’s work and its wider impact,” an idea that Bell highlighted while urging architects to both practice good design but also articulate its definition. The SEED Network, established in major part through Bell’s efforts, is definitely a great step in that direction.

Casius Pealer, Regional Director-Gulf Coast for Builders of Hope, also focused on the importance of articulating our profession’s standards. With advanced degrees and public interest experience in both architecture and law, Pealer spoke with conviction on the need to get architecture’s Code of Ethics & Professional Conduct up to speed with that of law or medicine. He then opened up the floor by asking if access to design is as important as access to legal representation or medical treatment – leading to one of the most dynamic audience discussions of the entire summit.

Pealer’s kick-off slide read “The design has yet to begin, but the architecture is already there.” While certainly appropriate literally, he also meant it in a broader sense. What both Pealer and Bell seemed to entreat is September 22’s daily design idea: as a profession, we need to start taking thoughtful ownership of our work and its impact.

left photo of Design Corps’ migrant-farmworker housing project, from Metropolis Magazine courtesy of Bryan Bell; right photo of Builders of Hope relocating a donated house originally set for demolition, from the Wall Street Journal courtesy of Builders of Hope

This post is 1 of 7 within a series exploring Public Interest Architecture.


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Public interest architecture. “Nothing about us, without us, is for us.”

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. An architect of change. « Daily Design Idea  |  October 6, 2010 at 6:12 pm

    […] September 28, 2010 The best part about going to events like Architecture for Change and City Lifters is that you’re surrounded by real people who have enacted real change. Some architects are changing the world with participatory design or historic preservation or their own just-do-it approaches. Tons of designers are working on ways to create more responsible housing and reduce project costs (though they could always use more). And everyone seems so dedicated to working towards a world with more good design. […]


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