Location: San Francisco, CA
Public Architecture is a new model for architectural practice. Supported by the generosity of foundation, corporate, and individuals grants and donations, Public Architecture works outside the economic constraints of conventional architectural practice, providing a venue where architects can work for the public good.
Rather than waiting for commissions that represent well-understood needs and desires, we take a leadership role, identifying significant problems of wide relevance that require innovative research and design. We seek needs and desires that are palpable but poorly defined, in circumstances where both client and financing must be imagined in new ways.
We don't just do our own projects; we encourage architecture firms nationwide to formalize their commitment to the public good. While many--perhaps most--architects give of their expertise from time to time, the profession as a whole has not structured its pro bono endeavors as clearly as has, say, the legal profession. "The 1%" program, through which firms pledge one percent of their billable hours to pro bono service, aims to institutionalize and celebrate pro bono practice in architecture.
Can't sophisticated design serve social justice? It can, and it should. The distinction between progressive design and popular design is a class prejudice—and a red herring. Public Architecture brings the values of design—formal innovation, intellectual currency, critical appraisal of the status quo—to bear on real problems in our communities.
Architecture doesn't just function; it expresses the human condition. It's about human dignity. It's about respect. It communicates identity and enables people to speak, to participate, to act. If you want to see what design has to do with identity, look at people's clothes, their cars. Architecture does the same things; it just lasts longer.
Beauty dignifies, but architectural beauty isn't just in the look of things. It's the expression of who we are and what we value as a community. It's also in the sound of footfalls on a plaza, the smell of rain on pavement, the warmth of a brick wall in the sun. It's in the sequence of spaces we pass through—tall and narrow, broad and open, bright, dark, loud, quiet. Public Architecture advocates for places for people with minds and bodies, not just eyes.
"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world.
Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has"
Margaret Mead, Anthropologist
(used with permission)
"If you don't like the news .... go out and make some of your own !!"
Wes "Scoop" Nisker, Newscaster
Government is a slow and tedious process. While it often includes citizen and neighborhood involvement, non-governmental, private organizations have created movements and interesting groups which can create positive change in our cities and towns.
I am fascinated by the way groups are created and how they influence public decision making. This blog merely recognizes them and forwards the description of these groups from their own websites.