“I’m known for this sort of quixotic behavior.”

September 25, 2010 at 9:15 pm 2 comments

I’ve written before about my support of designers going a little rogue, but Architecture for Change speakers Dan Pitera and Sergio Palleroni have really sealed the deal for me.

Dan Pitera, Executive Director of the Detroit Collaborative Design Center and professor at the University of Detroit Mercy, introduced us to a few projects, including the guerrilla and admittedly permit-less FireBreak project. FireBreak “reclaims public space within the burned houses of Detroit” and brings “attention to structures in need of demolition.” This goal is achieved by wrapping abandoned houses with everything from hay to plastic wrap, among other design actions. While cities like Detroit currently have daunting revitalization goals, Pitera encouraged the audience to “insert at the scale in which you can engage,” whatever and wherever that might be.

Sergio Palleroni, co-founder and Director of the BaSiC Initiative and professor at Portland State University, clearly agrees with having an active approach (and is also the one who humorously admitted his sometimes quixotic style). The Alley Flat Initiative is one of Palleroni’s numerous educational design/build projects that I admire, and it also happens to be a project where his work “in the margins” got a little too high profile too quickly. Luckily Palleroni is experienced at working out solutions relatively quickly and using the resources at hand (see projects like the Katrina Furniture Project and Solar Kitchen), qualities that he is committed to passing on to his students. Another key lesson: mistakes are ok in education!

September 25’s daily design idea comes from Plato, who Palleroni referenced at a recent Structures for Inclusion conference: you don’t become a citizen unless you act.

left, an in-progress photo of “HouseBreath” from FireBreak; right, rendering from the Ally Flat Initiative

This post is 4 of 7 within a series exploring Public Interest Architecture.


Entry filed under: Uncategorized. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , .

“Now, again, we prefer what is old to what is new.” “Looking good only counts if it does good, too.”

2 Comments Add your own

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

    […] 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 […]

  • […] encouraged Dan Pitera, executive director of the Detroit Collaborative Design Center and a ddi favorite.  One especially valuable contribution – highlighted by both Sergio Palleroni and Brent Brown, […]


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