SFI 14 Sunday Breakout Sessions


Breakout Sessions #1: 10:40-11:30am

Track 1: What is the future of Public Interest Design?

Community Interface Committee: A Prototype for a New AIA Knowledge Community about Public Interest Design / session led by AIA Chicago Community Interface Committee — Room 202

To realize the full breadth and scope of Public Interest Design, we argue that it is useful and mutually beneficial to establish a sub-group within the profession’s largest and arguably the most influential organization, the AIA. This program will discuss the process to create a local chapter committee akin to the Community Interface Committee (CIC) of AIA Chicago, a group dedicated to increasing architects’ knowledge of and participation with community groups and non-profit organizations.

Engaged Process: What makes public interest design different / session led by Iowa State University Community Design Lab — Room 305

The Carnegie Foundation describes “engagement” as collaboration “for the mutually beneficial exchange of knowledge and resources in a context of partnership and reciprocity.” Engagement between designers and community partners is a cornerstone of contemporary public interest design that expands the boundaries of design practice and design’s ability to effectively address complex contemporary issues. This process opens up the boundaries of project types, roles of designers, and range of voices shaping the built environment. This session will focus on engaged partnerships between designers and communities that build a stronger vision for the future than either party can alone.

“Public Interest Design:” Reality Check: Who You Are – What You’re After – Points of Entry / session led by Ellen B. Rudolph — Room 303

Session will focus on sharing recent observations of Public Interest Design’s promises as well as challenges: for example, the gaps as “interest” evolves to sustainable “impact;” deep learning gaps within each partner’s knowledge, and the need for translation and how to manage conflict and expectations. Participants should bring examples of un-met challenges, as well as promises kept.

“Glocalization” in Public Interest Design: Global Resources and Local Solutions / session led by Neighborhood Design Center — Room 310

As designers, how can we foster greater access to ideas and resources, especially to disadvantaged communities, while promoting intimately local designs? We’ll discuss the benefits and challenges of glocalized design using past and current Neighborhood Design Center and Gensler Baltimore projects as examples. Gensler, one of the world’s largest architecture and design firms, is a leader in design research and creative problem solving. The Neighborhood Design Center, a community design center in Baltimore, works with neighborhood organizations to document their vision for local change.

Social Impact Design and Social Justice / session led by Surdna Foundation — Room 201

Since we know that planning and development are not neutral acts but rather powerful tools in shaping physical, social and economic realities, how do designers and architects practice in a way that supports just and sustainable communities? In this hour-long conversation we’ll talk broadly about the connection between social justice and social impact and we’ll consider different models of community engaged design practice that begin to shift historic imbalances of power. Session Presenters:  Jessica Garz, Surdna Foundation, Anne Frederick, Hester Street Collaborative and Thomas Yu, Asian Americans for Equality

Track 2: Tools / What to do Monday?

Effective Communication between Architects and Clients / Community / session led by University of Michigan – Room 403

According to co-CEO of Gensler in the June edition of Metropolis, logistics come down to three primary things: market opportunity, strength of client relationships and depth of passion and expertise. This need for relationships and passion extends beyond traditional architecture firms and is highlighted when working with other cultures, like those in developing countries. Yet how do we create and sustain these important relationships? This session will answer these questions by giving the audience techniques in how to effectively listen and ask the right questions through methods of interviewing and ethnographic observation. It will also explain the positive results of effective communication for architects and designers.

The Business of Doing Good / session led by LS3P Associates — Room 411

This workshop will focus on the practical requirements of starting and operating a socially oriented/ public interest design firm. Input will be provided by a panel of experienced professionals that represent the various approaches to working in the field of Public Interest Design. The panelists will each provide a short introduction of themselves and their work before discussing the challenges and logistics of operating a successful business that creates positive social impacts. This session will provide participants with a “real world” evaluation of the challenges and rewards of working in this field and an overview of the process of how to turn it into a business.

It’s Monday, Now Get To Work / session led by Inscape Publico — Room 404

You leave this conference, your high from the weekend has subsided, now what? #1. Remain engaged. Immerse yourself in the culture of the common good; volunteer, sit on a board; find the place where your skills can help. #2. Don’t think of your public interest design project as volunteer work or even pro bono. Treating your PID project as you would any other project gives it the importance it deserves. This will help your team stay enthusiastic and focused on completing the project. #3. Build an ancillary team of talented, like minded professionals; contractors, consultants, PR firms, interns, etc. #4. Think of your clients as partners. Their contributions are vital to the success of the project. Be sure that they have financing, or the ability to raise the funds needed to build your design and make all of that hard work real. #5. Now get to work!

Evaluating Projects, Measuring Success: The SEED Tool, Awards and Funds / session led by Bryan Bell, Design Corps and SEED Network — Room 417

This workshop will share in-depth information about Social Economic Environmental Design (SEED) standard.

Meeting People Where They’re At: Effective Strategies for Participation and Community Engagement / session led by Dylan House – Hester Street Collaborative — Room TBD

How can participatory planning and design processes better reach people and engage residents of all ages? This workshop led by Hester Street Collaborative will present mobile and adaptable tools for community outreach and engagement. These tools have been designed to go out into parks, schools, tenant meetings and community events to create spaces for feedback that are welcoming and fun. We will also present ways to involve people in projects that take place over long periods of time, from advocacy campaigns to stewardship events to hands-on public art projects.

Breakout Session #2:  11:40-12:30pm

Track 1: What is the future of Public Interest Design

Engaging women and communities in developing / session led by Anita Shankar, Johns Hopkins University – Room 303

Architects, engineers and planners have tremendous potential to improve the lives of individuals living in resource poor settings, both domestically and internationally. However, many projects are conceived of and implemented without the explicit engagement and active participation of the local community, especially women. In this interactive discussion, we explore the importance of working with women and community members in the development of innovative building projects that draws from the successes and failures of technology transfer within public health programs. Creating projects that work with locally available materials, are cognizant of the cultural context and social norms and build human resource capacity are more likely to have both short and long term benefits for these communities.

Future of the Social Impact Job Market / session led by John Peterson, Public Architecture –

Room 201

Where are the jobs for designers interested in social impact and public interest design? From large corporate to small offices, mainstream and alternative firms are adopting social impact strategies into practice. These firms aren’t only looking for top talent, recruiting designers with broad expertise and values are critical. If designers are to increase relevancy, they need to develop skills to serve clients outside the typical setting. Designers will do well to exhibit an entrepreneurial approach to the business of design and have experience in areas such as economic development, public health, and social science. For a growing number of firms, working with the social sector is beyond “the right thing to do,” it represents an underexplored market that contributes $1.8T to the annual economy. This session will explore the changing job market and the skills that are in demand, as well as the resources to support this work.

Emerging Models of Public Interest Design: Strategies, Methods and Tactics /session led by Mia Scharphie, Nick McClintock and Gilad Meron  Proactive Practices — Room 305

The boundaries between for-profit and non-profit are increasingly fading as firms and organizations recognize the necessity of hybrid models for addressing today’s “wicked problems.” The past two decades have seen the growth of dozens of new design practices building business models focused on social impact and community-based work. Critical to the future of this growing public interest design movement is the dissemination of information on how to build and sustain these practices. More than ever we need to share the strategies, methods and processes that these firms and organizations are using to build financially sustainable models of practice. This session will be a panel discussion with the principals of three such pioneering design firms, moderated by the co-founders of Proactive Practice. The discussion will focus on unpacking the specific strategies and methods the panelist employ in their practices and how they represent examples of the future of design practice.

Strengthening the Sustainability-Resilience Paradigm: Design Considerations for Enduring Organizations / session led by Chris Harnish, Philadelphia University — Room 306

As Public Interest Design methodologies mature, they must develop more sophisticated strategies to consider the long-term fitness of the NGO client. While cultural endurance is a critical element of the sustainability-resilience paradigm, it may be the most difficult for designers and clients to synthesize into the design process. What strategies, funding models and construction frameworks should a designer consider when engaging an ambitious NGO client? This session examines three recent architectural projects for small-scale NGOs in South Africa, including one project that received honorable mention at the 2013 SEED Awards. In each project, the designer and client strategize the new construction into their five and ten year organizational plan. The methodology impacted the design schemes, as well as conjoint funding, maintenance, programmatic and sustainability models.

Pencils + Post-its / session led by Farana Gandhi, Principal, FG Design Studio + Professor, New York Institute of Technology – Room 202

Public Interest Design levels the playing field. Designers are embraced as part of the community and communities are an invited voice in design. Emerging digital tools are, no doubt, offering new methodologies for collaboration and visualization, but here, the designer arrives armed simply with pencils + post-its. Design starts in the field with cross-disciplinary conversations inviting new approaches to problems at hand. At its very best, this democratization pushes the limits of creative thinking, resulting not only in tangible product or built space, but also in tool for continued feedback and social engagement. The most successful projects never end. The designer walks away, but leaves behind “pencils + post-its” as instructive and accessible seeds. These are ideally designed into the project’s daily use such that users continue to build and grow its impact. The success of PID, thus, is defined as a measure of productive use, but also of sustained community empowerment.

Track 2: Tools / What to do Monday?

“Scoping” a Successful Pro Bono Project / session led by Neighborhood Design Center — Room 403

We all want to give back, but pro bono projects can become overwhelming for even the most dedicated designer. Many of the common challenges in pro bono design can be avoided, or at least minimized, by clearly defining the scope of the project before starting work. However, in the excitement of the process this critical step is often overlooked, leaving designers and communities with sometimes conflicting expectations of what the project will be. In this session we’ll analyze some of the common considerations in pro bono project scopes and walk through how to determine the scope of your project in partnership with your client organization.

Beyond Design-Build / session led by Center for Public Interest Design at Portland State University – Room 404

Led by Todd Ferry and Travis Bell, Faculty Fellows at the Center for Public Interest Design at Portland State University, this session will aim to connect the exciting and provocative ideas that SFI is going to generate with the possibilities of action and involvement by showing how a center, like the CPID, takes action on the challenges presented with public interest design.

Diverse Tools for Broad Engagement / session led by Dan Pitera, Detroit Collaborative Design Center – Room 411

Respecting Cultural Diversity / session led by Jamie Blosser, Sustainable Native Community Collaborative – Room 417

Social Impact Design and the Federal Government – Recent Efforts to Grow the Field / session led by Jason Schupbach, Director of Design Programs, National Endowment for the Arts –Room 310

This session will outline the National Endowment for the Arts funding availability and recent efforts to support the field of social impact design.