In the introduction to Architecture for Humanity’s 2006 book Design Like You Give a Damn, founder Cameron Sinclair recounts a story from the early days of the organization. Half-joking yet deadly serious, he describes the day when, while still running Architecture for Humanity from a single cell phone around his day job at Gensler, he was contacted by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees who told him that Architecture for Humanity was on a list of organizations that might be able to help a potential refugee crisis in Afghanistan should the US retaliate in the wake of September 11.
“I hope it’s a long list,” says Sinclair. “No,” comes the answer.
“We’d like to think it was because we had already become a voice for humanitarian design – an unexpected touchstone in the movement for socially conscious architecture,” writes Sinclair of the incident. “The sad truth is that until 1999, when our fledgling organization got started along with a handful of others, there was no easily identifiable design resource for shelter after disaster.”
Now, after their sudden and rather unceremonious demise, Architecture for Humanity has left architecture a very different world from the one it entered almost sixteen years ago.
As the Pritzker Jury begins its deliberations for the 2015 Pritzker Prize, this is a critical time of year for shaping the landscape of architectural debate for the coming year and beyond. The following is an open letter to Martha Thorne, the Executive Director of the Pritzker Prize, from Conrad Newel, author of the popular blog Notes on Becoming a Famous Architect.
I have to hand it to you and all the people on the Pritzker committee, you guys are a very crafty bunch. Just when I thought I had you all figured out, you have now – even though only slightly – succeeded in confounding me.
From my 2011 analysis of the Pritzker, I figured that your potential pool of laureates was always a very predictable bunch. In fact anyone could look at my data and predict with reasonable certainty that the next laureate would most likely be an Asian or Caucasian male starchitect from Europe, The USA, or Japan. I further pointed out that none of your laureates have done much in the way of humanitarianism, despite the fact that the mission statement of the Pritzker also asks that the recipient should be making significant contributions to humanity. I maintained that this part of the mandate has been consistently overlooked.
Architecture for Humanity has announced the end of their program in Haiti, effective from January 2015. The charitable organization, which has its headquarters in San Francisco, set up offices in Port-au-Prince in March 2010 in order to better help the people of Haiti after the 2010 earthquake. Through almost five years in Haiti, they have completed nearly 50 projects, including homes, medical clinics, offices, and the 13 buildings in their Haiti School Initiative. Their work has positively affected the lives of over 1 million Haitians, with their schools initiative alone providing education spaces for over 18,000 students.
Read on after the break for more on the end of Architecture for Humanity’s Haiti program, and images of their completed schools
Architecture for Humanity Vancouver Chapter has unveiled the winners of “NEXT BIG ONE,” an open call for design solutions to high-magnitude earthquake and tsunami events that plague cities around the world. Project teams were challenged to propose a solution that ”can mitigate natural disasters while simultaneously providing community permanence.”
A jury comprised of leading architects and professionals from Architecture Research Office (Stephen Cassell), Perkins + Will (Susan Gushe), Bing Thom Architects (Eileen Keenan), Scott & Scott Architects (David Scott), and the City of Vancouver (Doug Smith) evaluated the projects. Entries were evaluated based on three key criteria: the exemplification of innovation in disaster design, promotion of community resiliency before and after disasters, and compliance with multi-hazard parameters for worst-case disaster scenarios.
Make It Right, the organization founded by Brad Pitt to provide housing to those in need, has unveiled 5 designs for their new initiative in the Fort Peck Indian Reservation in Montana. The designs – by GRAFT, Sustainable Native Communities Collaborative, Architecture for Humanity, Method Homes and Living Homes - are inspired by cradle-to-cradle principles, will be LEED Platinum rated and have been developed alongside community consultation with the Sioux and Assiniboine tribes of Fort Peck.
The organization is planning to build 20 new homes on the reservation, as well as developing a sustainable masterplan for the entire 3,300 square mile reservation, with construction planned to start later this year.
More on the development of Make It Right’s Fort Peck initiative after the break.
British writer Tim Abrahams finds Shigeru Ban‘s architecture ”kooky, Middle Earthy, Hobbity” – an opinion which earns him the title of “idiot” in the eyes of newly appointed Architecture for Humanity Executive Director Eric Cesal. In an article for the Boston Review, Stephen Phelan uses the pair’s opposing opinions to illustrate the Pritzker Prize winning architect’s perceived failures and successes. Read his very engaging take, here.
Architecture for Humanity, the non-profit responsible for propagating designers and designs around the world that “give a damn,” has named its latest Executive Director. After co-founders Kate Stohr and Cameron Sinclair announced their decision to step down in September of last year, the organization began a global search for the person who would replace them. Today, the Board of Directors has announced the appointee: Eric Cesal, an experienced designer and author of the memoir/manifesto Down Detour Road: An Architect in Search of Practice who first joined Architecture for Humanity in 2006 as a volunteer on the Katrina reconstruction program and later established and led Architecture for Humanity’s Haiti Rebuilding Center in Port-au-Prince from 2010 to 2012.
Interdisciplinary teams from the University of Sao Paulo, Delft University, and five other post-secondary institutions are currently exploring sustainable innovations in design, materials, and building systems thanks to the support of Pillars of Sustainable Education – a partnership between Architecture for Humanity and the Alcoa Foundation. The collaborative effort was founded as a way to “educate the next generation of architects, engineers, and material designers while supporting real-world design-build projects that positively impact both the environment and the local community.” Months into the project, the schools’ proposals are turning into reality as students collaborate with NGOs. To learn about what each school is working on, keep reading after the break.
Architecture for Humanity New York (AfHny) is accepting submissions for construction, interior design, landscape, and other design-related projects for the AfHny Community Design Competition 2014. AfHny will select one winning project that will be judged based on its alignment with AfHny’s mission, its perceived impact on the New York community, the submitting organization’s ability to fund the project, and proof of the organization’s ability to impact New York City’s neighborhoods based on past results. The winning project will receive a design competition hosted by AfHny that will result in several schematic design solutions developed by our membership base, which represents some of the top talent in the New York City design community. At the end of the design competition process, the winning organization will select their favored schematic design.
Architecture for Humanity Denver (AfH) and Open Tech Forever (OTF) are demonstrating that it is possible to build an open source, compressed earth block (CEB) house that meets the Living Building Challenge 2.1 standard.
They invite you to join the international call to action. Enter the contest and help them design a CEB home that they will build in the Spring of 2014 on their 40 acre site in Denver, Colorado.
They will document each home design and the systemic body of knowledge that informs this process, so that anyone in the world can both learn from and contribute to the project. This is an open source house for the world. The Forever Home. For more information, please click here.
On Friday, one of the strongest storms ever to hit land left 660,000 Filipinos homeless, with countless more desperately needing basic supplies to survive.
In the wake of catastrophe wrought by Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, the American Institute of Architects (AIA) and Architecture for Humanity are calling for immediate help as survivors face severe shortages of food, water, shelter and medical supplies.
Both organizations will be aiding local volunteers to help rebuild in the coming days and weeks. Through speaking with local stakeholders and construction professionals, they are working to begin understanding the on-the-ground situation to prioritize rebuilding needs and help affected regions build back better and stronger. Relief and reconstruction, however, cannot happen without your support. Learn how you can send aid to typhoon victims today after the break.
In 2013 alone some 1 million people have poured out of Syria to escape a civil conflict that has been raging for over two years. The total number of Syrian refugees is well over 2 million, an unprecedented number and a disturbing reality that has put the host countries under immense infrastructural strain.
Host countries at least have a protocol they can follow, however. UN Handbooks are consulted and used to inform an appropriate approach to camp planning issues. Land is negotiated for and a grid layout is set. The method, while general, is meticulous – adequate for an issue with an expiration date.
Or at least it would be if the issue were, in fact, temporary.
Last week, we noted how the American Institute of Architect’s (AIA) participation with the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI), as well as it’s many other initiatives, signify the organization’s commitment to putting resiliency on the agenda. The following article, written by Brooks Rainwater, the Director of Public Policy at the AIA, outlines these efforts and emphasizes how architects are tackling today’s most pressing global challenges.
Architects are increasingly demonstrating their ability to help solve large-scale problems in the areas of resilience and health. At the same time the continued ascendancy of social impact design has helped elevate the conversation and prescribed a needed emphasis on equity considerations, uplifting global populations, and the idea that design should be for and impact all people.
With more than 1,000 global leaders convened in New York last week for the Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting it is an ideal time to ask the question, how does design fit into the global conversation?
The AIA has decidedly found its latest buzz word: Resiliency.
Just this week at the 2013 Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting, former-president Bill Clinton announced the American Institute of Architects’ participation in the 100 Resilient Cities Commitment: an initiative of the Rockefeller Foundation to provide 100 cities with “chief resilience offers,” responsible for developing and financing new, resilient urban infrastructures. So far, over 500 cities have requested to participate; on December 3rd, the Rockefeller Foundation will announce the winning cities.
Along with Architecture for Humanity, the AIA will then train those cities’ resilience officers, “architects in their communities,” by creating “five Regional Resilient Design Studios that build on our profession’s collective expertise in helping communities recover in the wake of major disasters.”
But the “resilience” doesn’t stop there.
On November 7-9th, 2013, your favorite humanitarian design and resiliency conference presented by Architecture for Humanity is back for another round of innovative panel discussions, workshops, Design Open Mic, and inspiring dose of industry networking. This year’s theme, Designing for a More Resilient World, will highlight the intensifying need to protect livelihood in a world which is continuously dealing with the aftereffects of issues like climate change, urbanization and population shock.
Title: Design Like You Give a Damn: LIVE!
Organizers: Architecture for Humanity
From: Thu, 07 Nov 2013
Until: Sat, 09 Nov 2013
Venue: Contemporary Jewish Museum / Autodesk Gallery / Architecture for Humanity Headquarters
Address: San Francisco, CA, USA
“It’s great to see something you started evolve into an institution. We are excited about the future of the organization and plan to continue lending support in whatever ways we can.” Kate Stohr, co-founder
Architecture for Humanity founders, Kate Stohr and Cameron Sinclair, will step down after 15 years of leading the San Francisco based non-profit organization to focus on new ventures. Upon leaving, they have drafted a five year strategic vision, reiterating the organization’s purpose and needed areas of improvement. Matt Charney, Board President of Architecture for Humanity, is confident that ‘Kate and Cameron’s vision and years of dedication leaves the organization in a solid place.” To further expand operations, board directors will begin an international search for a new executive director by the end of September.
Why is it that the Bay Area can suffer a 6.9 earthquake and lose just 63 people, while Haiti suffers a slightly stronger quake and loses about 100,000? The answer: shoddy construction. As Bryan Walsh of TIME points out, “We tend to focus on the size of an earthquake, but death toll has more to do with the quality of buildings. [...] Poverty — and even more, poor governance and corruption — is the multiplier of natural disasters. [...] That’s why one of the most vulnerable places in the world is south-central Asia.” Learn more about the dangers of poorly constructed buildings here and see what the “true value” of architecture is here.
“When you build a beautiful building, people love it. And the most sustainable building in the world is the one that’s loved.” – Cameron Sinclair, Co-founder of Architecture for Humanity
Cameron Sinclair is a man who sustains his passion for helping improve the world, one project at a time, by tapping into the skilled enthusiasm of like-minded architects from all over the globe. Since the co-founding of his non-profit organization with Kate Stohr in 1999, Sinclair and his interdisciplinary teams of citizen architects have provided shelter for more than two million people worldwide.
Under his leadership, Architecture for Humanity’s infectious mantra has inspired thousands to join its cause every year, allowing the organization to expand at an unbelievable rate and become the exemplar of public interest design. Considering this, it is no surprise that Sinclair was selected to be the keynote speaker on day two of the 2013 AIA National Convention.
Keeping the momentum from yesterday’s inaugural speech, where TOMS founder Blake Mycoskie shared his success story of “doing well by doing good,” Sinclair urged architects to hold close the true value of their profession.
Learn what Cameron Sinclair believes to be the ‘true value of architects’ after the break.