Thursday, October 27, 2005

Public Architecture and the One Percent

Activist Architects was recently made aware of the work of John Cary (no, not John Kerry!), based out of San Francisco, who has started a number of initatives aimed at increasing the activist role of architects. His "firm," Public Architecture, allows architects to truly engage the public realm. According to their website, "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 stable, ongoing venue where architects can work for the public good."

In addition, Cary has formed "The One Percent" Solution as a means to encourage other architectural firms around the states to donate one percent of their time to pro bono work in the public realm. At this time, there is only one Minnesota firm (Paulsen Architects in Mankato) that has signed on, but we can hope that the idea may catch on, especially given the fact that Cary is a University of Minnesota alum!

FYI - You may recognize Cary's name from ArchVoices, the electronic newsletter for architectural interns that he co-published with one of his colleagues.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I admire what John Carey has done with the formation of his non-profit firm Public Architecture. I truly believe that our expertise as architects can positively impact our social environment and I am happy to see that there are firms out there contributing in this way.

Additionally, I think the one percent campaign is a great way to remind the industry about the importance of giving back. As the website indicated, many firms participate in pro bono work on an irregular basis and although I am sure the desire to do more is present it is often pushed aside for what might be the more pressing issues of the time. I think this campaign will help quantify the commitment necessary to make a difference.

5:37 PM  
Blogger Laura D. said...

This is a great campaign and I am glad to hear that something like this is happening in the architecture community. It is about time. It seems that most large firms in our country have the funds and man power to contribute to a campaign like this, at the least. Not only is it a great thing to do for the country, but it is something that could contribute to the firms standing in the community, and who could argue that is a good thing?

6:34 PM  
Blogger Mark K said...

The campaign creates awareness and organization for pro-bono work. I think both are a necassary to accomplish what John Carey wants to be done. The one percent campaign creates something important, it creates a goal that is very attainable and has a limit. I think if it was just put out there as do "pro-bono" the motivation will be short lived and excused all too present.

6:51 PM  
Blogger Corri said...

As a student, I get a chance to talk with my colleagues about our contribution to society in our future, and present endeavors. I think that we should start this practice of donating a portion of our time to work in the public realm while still in school. At the graduate level, we have a certain amount of expertise to contribute. For example, we could do more work with neighborhood associations, to help them realize some of their goals and vision for development and to give them a stronger voice with developers. For the students it would be a great opportunity to get some experience with real clients, while at the same time highlighting the importance of working in the public realm in students’ minds.

5:57 AM  
Blogger gonzo said...

I agree with Corri that community service should be required in our architectural education. Many private university already require community service hours for graduation. School is a great place to start good habits and make connections that fuel our future.

6:42 PM  
Blogger PurpleCheeze said...

I haven't looked through your blog completely, but I just thought I'd pass on the name of Maurice Cox as someone you might look into.

8:29 AM  
Blogger Becky said...

Thanks for the tip, Purple Cheeze. What's interesting about Maurice Cox is that it seems he's really able to keep a high level of design in his work while still maintaining his role in the public realm. Plus, he's an educator, which gives him a third hat to wear! Although it seems a lot to ask someone to be a mayor, a professor, and an architect at the same time, it does suggest a way that we can perhaps get at Corri's suggestion of getting activism in the schools.

7:21 AM  
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