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A rendering of the HOK-designed orphanage and children's center in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Rendering courtesy of HOK.
Contributing to the greater good comes in many forms. Such contributions, however, mainly fall into one of two categories: give a man a fish and teach a man to fish. Or to put it more plainly: money and sustainability. Both are admirable. When it comes to A&D, the two often occur simultaneously. (Volunteering to design and build resource-efficient houses, for example, after a natural disaster.)
Quick Look- Several design-based nonprofits advance the communities around them by way of socially beneficial work. See a list of the top A&D-inclined organizations we found here.
This January, the American Institute of Architecture (AIA) partnered with Public Architecture—the organization whose members allot 1 percent of their billable hours to pro bono work—to encourage and support the group’s endeavors. Later this year the 1 percent program website will more effectively connect nonprofits needing design services with participating A&D firms.
And they are not alone in this goal. Since 2001, Taproot Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, has been connecting charitable organizations with skilled professionals who provide pro bono consulting services. If just 10 percent of the more than 8 million qualified people in the U.S. donated one week each year, states Taproot, a $4.8-billion pro bono market would be created. The foundation’s reach includes design, marketing and branding, human resources, technology, and more.
“Architects can have a bit of an ego,” says Barry Rich, Rockwell Group, Principal. “How do you step back and let the creativity of whoever you’re working for shine through? [Charitable contribution] is an opportunity to step back and let them be the star of the show.”
And many within the A&D community are doing just that. We talked to several firms of all sizes about how they are contributing to the greater good, using their most recognizable skills: A&D. Just hearing them talk about their work—work on projects ranging from Houston to Haiti—made us feel good. We can only imagine the inner-positivity derived from actually participating in the projects.
Members of the A&D industry are pitching in to enhance the lives of those less fortunate across the globe. Click the links below to see five firms who are very active in giving back to the community from a local level to worldwide.
Brett Zamore Design
+Read about the firm's socially beneficial design and see project photos here.