Don't be a dick. For some, it's a motto to live by. One New York City–based nonprofit would like architects to design by it, too. The Center for Urban Pedagogy (CUP) teamed up with the Equity Collective—Christine Gaspar, executive director of CUP; Theresa Hwang, founder and director of Department of Places; and Liz Ogbu, founder and principal of Studio O—and illustrator Ping Zhu to produce Dick & Rick: A Visual Primer for Social Impact Design, a gently didactic pictorial for architects on the dos and don'ts of community-engaged design. As their names suggest, Dick is the Goofus to Rick's Gallant. The 15-page spread walks readers through the design process in each architect's respective office: In a stroll around the neighborhood, Rick spies a flier for a community meeting about parks, and wonders if he could lend his skills to the project. Dick reads a news piece about the same initiative and, pen aloft, offers help to "them." Channeling Howard Roark, Dick does a site analysis himself and holds perfunctory public meetings where he explains his ideas to residents, with no space for feedback. Rick, in contrast, lives the principles of socially-engaged architecture by collaborating with stakeholders over a sustained period to discuss how the park should be designed and programmed. Readers familiar with social impact design are vindicated when Dick's park is nice, but devoid of visitors while Rick's park is nice and a hit with residents. The Equity Collective believes that art can spur effective citizen engagement and that, if done right, social justice is integral to great design. Take their advice and don't be a Dick.
Posts tagged with "social design":
Building on a long relationship, the 2016 SEED Award for Public Interest Design has been awarded to the arts education nonprofit Marwen’s new renovation and expansion, designed by Chicago-based Wheeler Kearns Architects. Founded in 1987 in a one-room studio, Marwen now serves from 200 to 300 students a year in part thanks to expansions and renovations done over the last 20 years by Wheeler Kearns. The newest of these projects renovated 30,000 square feet, expanding the organization’s space within its current building. New spaces in the building include a main student gallery, an alumni gallery, a library, administrative offices, nine state-of-the-art instructional studios, and a 950-square-foot glass loggia on the north side of the building. The loggia, an element Marwen and Wheeler Kearns have been discussing for since 1999, was finally able to be realized with the purchase of the neighboring parking lot. The space acts as an additional public exhibition and gathering space. Continuing with some of the elements and sensibility of earlier renovations for the organization, Wheeler Kearns worked with existing conditions in the former manufacturing building. Most walls were left as exposed brick and heavy timber douglas fir beams make up the structure and ceiling. The floors were replaced with poured, sound-deadening, tooled concrete. Gallery and studio spaces have limited color pallets to allow for exhibition flexibility, while informal support spaces are set in vibrant colors. The new and improved spaces will be used to expand Marwen’s programs and support its increased focus on college and career counseling for under-served 6–12 grade students from around Chicago. Along with that counseling the organization provides free classes in photography, graphic design, film, animation, textiles, and ceramics. Besides working with Marwen on its former spaces, Wheeler Kearns has also worked on other small cultural institutions in Chicago including the Old Town School of Folk Music and the Beverly Art Center. In a statement Dan Wheeler, founding partner at Wheeler Kearns explained the office's interest in designing for the youth and the arts, “In many minds, the arts are seen as an avocation; for a parent to come into a designed place and see that there are serious teachers and artists working with and instructing the students, and that their child’s work is considered and presented in a professional way, that gives them the confidence that this activity might actually be something to support and sustain their child.”
Hong Kong–based nonprofit research and design firm Rural Urban Framework (RUF) won the Curry Stone Design Prize for its work rebuilding villages across China. Joshua Bolchover and John Lin, both professors at the University of Hong Kong, founded RUF in 2006. Their goal is to harness design to “stabilize, reinvigorate, and rebuild” China’s rural populations. Currently, China is experiencing a mass exodus of population from villages as people move to cities in search of better opportunities. In 1980, approximately 80 percent of all Chinese lived in villages. Today, more than half of the population lives in cities. According to research by Tianjin University, China loses approximately 300 villages every single day. Working closely with the locals, RUF has completed a variety of projects to meet each community’s specific needs, including bridges, schools, hospitals, houses, and even a garbage collection center. To date, RUF has worked in 18 villages to combat the effects urban sprawl and is designing and planning entire villages and prototype housing. “The work of RUF is addressing one of the most urgent current geopolitical issues, how to deal with the imbalances created by large mass migrations,” said Emiliano Gandolfi, the Prize Director. “Their work is exemplifying how architecture should establish a dialogue with the community and the environment in order to built structures that respond to their changing needs.” The Curry Stone Design Prize, founded in 2008 to celebrate socially-engaged designers and inspire others to use design, selects winners by consulting social impact experts and humanitarian advocates. RUF will receive a cash prize to aid its mission and projects in China. RUF will participate in a panel at the Chicago Architectural Biennial, led by Prize Director Emiliano Gandolfi on Friday October 2, from 2:30-4pm CST, taking place at the Claudia Cassidy Theater inside the Cultural Center. A short film produced by the Curry Stone Foundation about RUF’s work will also be shown during the panel.