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Design Like You Give a Damn: LIVE!

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.

Founders of Architecture for Humanity Step Down, Launch Five-year Plan

“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.

How Shoddily Constructed Buildings Become Weapons of Mass Destruction

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

AIA 2013: Citizen Architect

Cameron Sinclair at the 2013 AIA National Convention in Denver © ArchDaily
Cameron Sinclair at the 2013 AIA National Convention in Denver © ArchDaily

“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 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. 

As his speech continued the momentum of yesterday’s inaugural presentation, in which 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.

A Refugee Camp Is a City / World Refugee Day 2013

June 20th. World Refugee Day.

When we think of emergency architecture, what usually comes to mind are villages razed by flooding, by a hurricane or tornado. Families who have lost everything. From catastrophe emerges a new home for a new life, a new future to rebuild from the debris. But there are many other emergencies of an equally - if not more - dramatic nature.

Political and armed conflicts displace tens of millions of people every year. In the 2012 census collected by ANCUR, it was estimated that “43.3 million people in the world were displaced by force due to conflict and persecution. Children constitute 46% of this population.” These are not people who are starting from 0 with a new home, but rather who have run to save their own lives, taking with them only what they can carry - the things that will furnish houses that aren’t houses, because their inhabitants aren’t citizens. 

But a refugee camp is also a city. 

Four NGOs Launch Housing Competition to Aid Disaster Survivors

The American Institute of Architects (AIA), Make It Right, St. Bernard Project and Architecture for Humanity has formed a strategic partnership to launch “Designing Recovery,” an ideas competition created to aid in the rebuild of sustainable and resilient communities. 

Help Rebuild Moore

Recovery efforts are underway in the Oklahoma City suburb of Moore after a deadly, 1.3-mile-wide tornado carved a 20-mile-long swath of destruction through neighborhoods and schools on Monday afternoon. With winds up to 210 miles per hour and a death count that currently stands at 24, President Obama has declared this tornado to be “one of the most destructive in history,” ranking it at a Category 5. 

In an effort to help, Architecture for Humanity and the American Institute of Architects (AIA) have mobilized their teams to provide instant assistance and aid in long term reconstruction efforts. Although professional design and construction volunteers from both organizations are already on the ground, the community needs your help. Find out how you can help the residents of Moore after the break.

Kickstarter Campaign Aims to Transform Denver Parking Lot into Outdoor Classroom

Architecture for Humanity-Denver is seeking to raise money for the transformation of a museum parking lot into an outdoor classroom for children in need. The goal of Denver's Museo de las Americas is to educate the community about the diversity of Latino Americano art and culture from ancient to contemporary through innovative exhibitions and programs, but the museum is lacking the necessary space for its increasingly popular youth summer camp. 

Architecture Love Cards

Courtesy of Architecture for Humanity
Courtesy of Architecture for Humanity

With love in the air this Valentine’s Day season, there is undoubtedly no better way to express your feelings to the architecture enthusiast in your life with these one of a kind architecture love cards. Made especially to share with your loved ones and those you care about most, celebrate this year’s loveliest season with these simple, yet elegant cards featuring well-known architectural wonders throughout the world from the Eiffel Tower to the Golden Gate Bridge. Thanks to Architecture for Humanity, just by visiting here, you can easily download one, two, or several of these cards which remind you why you love architecture so much! More images of  love cards available can be viewed after the break.

SEEDoc: Maria Auxiliadora School

On August 15th, 2007 a powerful earthquake hit the region of Ica, Perú, destroying the small Maria Auxiliadora School. The first responders left after a matter of months, but the damage remained. Resources were shuffled to the big cities, and the small school waited, for years, for the authorities to take on the reconstruction. They never did.

And so, with help from Architecture for Humanity Design Fellow, Diego Collazo, and with funding from the Happy Hearts Fund and the SURA Group, the community decided to take the school’s - and their children’s - future into their own hands. This SEEDoc, the latest installment of inspirational mini-documentaries from the Design Corps and SEED (Social Economic Environmental Design), tells their story.

More after the break...

Donate to Architecture for Humanity, Get A Famous Architect's Sketch

Steven Holl 
Concept Sketch for Museum of Fine Arts, Houston Competition. 11/05/11 
Watercolor and charcoal on hot-press watercolor paper 7 x 10. Image via Architecture for Humanity
Steven Holl 
Concept Sketch for Museum of Fine Arts, Houston Competition. 11/05/11 
Watercolor and charcoal on hot-press watercolor paper 7 x 10. Image via Architecture for Humanity

Architecture for Humanity has had a busy year. From continuing efforts in Haiti and Japan to their Post-Sandy initiative to open two new offices in New York and New Jersey, they could use a little help to get to their annual goal. 

So they're auctioning off 7 sketches from famous architects - from Steven Holl to Renzo Piano to Frank Gehry.  Everyday this week (starting today!), they will announce which architect's sketch is the piece of the day on their web site. The first $5K donation before 12pm PST gets the artwork. 

Check out which other famous architects have contributed their sketches, after the break...

Daniel Libeskind 
Emerging! | New York, 3/29/12 Ink on Trace Paper 11 x 13.75. Image via Architecture for Humanity Frank Gehry 
pen on cloth napkin. 2012 14 x 14. Image via Architecture for Humanity Richard Meier 
The Getty Center / I-Research Institute ed.11/20. Spring 1998 
Tyler Graphics Print | Original lithograph print on paper 20.5 x 28. Image via Architecture for Humanity Image via Architecture for Humanity

Highlights from Design Like You Give a Damn: LIVE! 2012

If you missed Design Like You Give A Dam: LIVE!  - the Architecture for Humanity event of panel discussions and workshops at the Autodesk Gallery in  - you must check out this short video.

Architecture for Humanity's 5-Point Plan for Hurricane Sandy Reconstruction

Hurricane Sandy damage north of Seaside, N.J. on Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2012. © Governor’s Office / Tim Larsen
Hurricane Sandy damage north of Seaside, N.J. on Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2012. © Governor’s Office / Tim Larsen

"As whenever disaster strikes, it will be many days before the full impact of the storm is brought to light, and which communities will be in largest need of design support as the broader reconstruction effort proceeds. However we are not waiting for water to recede before preparing a reconstruction campaign." - Cameron Sinclair, Architecture for Humanity co-founder

Since Hurricane Sandy struck New York and New Jersey last week, Architecture for Humanity  volunteers have been in action - not just aiding in the recovery efforts, but also analyzing how/where long-term reconstruction efforts will need to be focused. Indeed, Architecture for Humanity's co-founder, Cameron Sinclair, has already published the organization's 5-point strategy for long-term reconstruction in the areas most severely impacted by Sandy.

Architecture For Humanity's strategy for reconstruction (and more information on how you can get involved), after the break....

Ways to help affected communities after Hurricane Sandy

Hurricane Sandy damage north of Seaside, N.J. on Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2012. © Governor's Office / Tim Larsen
Hurricane Sandy damage north of Seaside, N.J. on Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2012. © Governor's Office / Tim Larsen

Following Hurricane Sandy’s devastating path through the Caribbean, up the Atlantic and into the East Coast of the United States, hundreds of communities are in need of immediate relief and facing the daunting challenge of rebuilding. In effort to help, Architecture for Humanity and the American Institute of Architects (AIA) are mobilizing their teams to provide instant assistance and plan for the long term reconstruction efforts. Professional design and construction volunteers from both organizations will be working together to help households, schools, heath facilities, small businesses and local government rebuild in the coming days and weeks. However, relief and reconstruction cannot happen without your support. Learn how you can help after the break.

OCO – Ocean & Coastline Observatory wins [UN] RESTRICTED ACCESS 2011

Courtesy of Manel Espada
Courtesy of Manel Espada

As previously announced, the Portuguese architects behind “OCO – Ocean & Coastline Observatory” have won Habitat for Humanity’s Open Architecture Challenge: RESTRICTED ACCESS 2011. Over 500 teams from 74 countries submitted innovative solutions for the recovery and reuse of disabled and abandoned military sites. These submissions were filtered down to 13 finalists by a jury of 33 esteemed professionals. The Lisbon-based architects of OCO claimed grand prized with their vision to redevelop a desolate military site, that once defended the coast of Trafaria in Portugal, into a civic space that promotes coastal preservation.

Continue after the break for more. 

AFH's I Love Architecture Charity Auction is Live!

via AFH
via AFH

If you love architecture, this is one auction you won’t want to miss! Architecture for Humanity has launched their highly anticipated I Love Architecture Charity Auction, featuring over 70 sketches from 50 of the world’s top architects and designers. The time to start bidding is now, as the auction will close on June 29th. All proceeds will support Architecture for Humanity.

Design Like You Give A Damn [2] / Architecture for Humanity

There are few organizations that would utter the words: “we need to constantly look for ways to make ourselves redundant” (46).

But Architecture for Humanity isn’t your typical organization. Since its inception in 1999, the company has put design professionals in the service of local communities, empowering these locals to the point where, frankly, they don’t need the architects any more.

And Design Like You Give A Damn : Building Change from the Ground Up, written by Architecture for Humanity co-founders Cameron Sinclair and Kate Stohr, isn’t your typical architecture book. More like an inspiration design manual, Design Like You Give A Damn  offers practical advise and over 100 case studies of projects that share Architecture for Humanity’s mission of building a sustainable future.

Beyond chronicling inspired designs and against-the-odds accomplishments, the book importantly offers a provocative philosophy : architecture belongs, not to the architect, but to the people and the world for whom it is designed.

More about life lessons and tips from Design Like You Give A Damn after the break…

After the Meltdown: Where does Architecture go from here?

You can get into Architecture for one of two reasons: good architecture or bad.

For Cameron Sinclair, the co-founder of Architecture for Humanity, it was the latter. As a kid, Sinclair would wander his rough-and-tumble South London neighborhood, contemplating how it could be improved (and creating elaborate Lego models to that effect). Instead of soaring skyscrapers or grand museums, he was inspired by buildings that “integrated your neighborhood in a way that made people feel like life was worth living.”

But that’s not Architecture. Or so he was told when he went to University.

Architecture Schools have created curriculums based on a profession that, by and large, doesn’t exist. They espouse the principles of architectural design, the history and the theory, and prepare its hopeful alumni to create the next Seagram Building or Guggenheim.

Unfortunately, however, the Recession has made perfectly clear that there isn’t much need for Guggenheims – certainly not as many as there are architects. As Scott Timberg described in his Salon piece, “The Architectural Meltdown,” thousands of thousands are leaving the academy only to enter a professional “minefield.”

So what needs to change? Our conception of what Architecture is. We need to accept that Architecture isn’t just designing – but building, creating, doing. We need to train architects who are the agents of their own creative process, who can make their visions come to life, not 50 years down the road, but now. Today.

We’ve been trained to think, to envision and design. The only thing left then, is to do.

More on the public-interest model and the future of Architecture, after the break…