Tuesday, July 14, 2009

A Good Deed By Design: The One Percent

Recently I learned about a wonderful program for architects and interior designers, The One Percent. Sponsored by San Francisco based Public Architecture, The One Percent is a pro bono design initiative. According to their website:

"The 1% program is a national venue for firms to document their pro bono contributions, gain recognition, and find new project opportunities."

The goal is to to get firms to donate 1% of their billable hours to pro-bono work. At this point, they work only with firms and not with individual designers. If you have a firm this could be a great opportunity for you, especially since business is scarce due to the recession. But doing pro bono work for a not-for-profit could be a great project to add to a portfolio of work while also using design to benefit society. I love the way Public Architecture addresses this concept on their site:

What We Don't Believe

Design has nothing to do with social justice
What? Can't sophisticated design serve social justice? It can, and it should. The distinction between progressive design and popular design is a class prejudice—and a red herring. Public Architecture brings the values of design—formal innovation, intellectual currency, critical appraisal of the status quo—to bear on real problems in our communities.

Beauty is trivial
No. Beauty dignifies. Architecture doesn't just function; it expresses the human condition. It's about human dignity. It's about respect. It communicates identity and enables people to speak, to participate, to act. If you want to see what design has to do with identity, look at people's clothes, their cars. Architecture does the same things; it just lasts longer.

"Looks" are everything
We didn't say that. Beauty dignifies, but architectural beauty isn't just in the look of things. It's the expression of who we are and what we value as a community. It's also in the sound of footfalls on a plaza, the smell of rain on pavement, the warmth of a brick wall in the sun. It's in the sequence of spaces we pass through—tall and narrow, broad and open, bright, dark, loud, quiet. Public Architecture advocates for places for people with minds and bodies, not just eyes.

To find out more about the program, visit:
And read more about Public Architecture here:

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