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"Architects, by nature, are problem solvers," says Barry Richards, Principal of Rockwell Group. No stranger to pro bono and socially beneficial design work, the New York-based firm is devoted to problem-solving for the cause.
David Rockwell has been involved with DIFFA (Design Industries Foundation Fighting AIDS) since 1994, a board member since 1996, and Chairman of the Board since 2000. In 1997, the group began designing furniture and creating lighting for DIFFA's annual fundraiser: Dining By Design.
Founder: David Rockwell
Headquarters: New York
Work: cultural, entertainment, hospitality, institutional, retail
Since 2000, David Rockwell has been on the board of Citymeals-on-Wheels, which delivers meals to homebound elderly New Yorkers on weekends, weekdays, holidays and in times of emergency. The group has designed the invitation, program, signage and lighting for the Citymeals-on-Wheels chefs-tribute benefit for nine years.
In addition to the many hours dedicated to participating on these boards, and that of the Cooper Hewitt, Rockwell handles design initiatives for The Public Theatre, and everyone in the group is encouraged to take part in, say, creating items for various auctions. Currently, a chair for the nonprofit Breast Cancer Research Foundation is under works.
In 2008, with the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation, the firm opened the $4-million Imagination Playground at Burling Slip. The result of five years of research and development, the playground was designed for kids to constantly reconfigure their environment. Rockwell Group raised a significant endowment fund to contribute to playground operations. City Parks Foundation continues to take contributions (tax deductible) so Imagination Playground will be properly maintained and staffed for decades to come.
"Working with groups such as charities and children, you really have to understand what their needs are, and not just come up with a quick solution," says Richards. "Besides the feel-good aspect, in a selfish way, pro bono projects make you a better designer."
Other members of the A&D industry are pitching in to enhance the lives of those less fortunate across the globe, too. Click the links below to see additional firms who are active in giving back to the community.