Public Interest Design
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Archive for the ‘Exhibition’ Category

October 3, 2012

Autodesk Gallery Exhibition Opens Tomorrow

Many month in the making, “Public Interest Design: Products, Places, & Processes,” a special exhibition combining storytelling and design for the public good, opens tomorrow, Thursday, October 4. This special Autodesk Gallery exhibition is co-curated by our own John Cary and author Courtney E. Martin. Above is a low-res, pre-overhead-lighting-adjustment shot of a large graphic wall that’s part of the show. The graphics were designed by partner Megan Jett, and they’re beautifully captured in an infographic that will debut tomorrow as well. So stay tuned.

The exhibition opening coincides with Autodesk’s second monthly “Design Night,” including music, drinks, food, and fun activities. Opening tickets may be purchased online at Thereafter the exhibition is expected to remain on display and travel for the next 4-5 years.

Click here to register for Design Night and the exhibition opening at the Autodesk Gallery in San Francisco, online at

September 13, 2012

“Public Interest Design” Exhibition Opening

The next in a series of exhibitions on design for the public good–”Public Interest Design: Products, Places, & Processes“–will officially open Thursday evening, October 4, 6-10pm, at the Autodesk Gallery in San Francisco. Months in the making, the exhibition is co-curated by our own John Cary and his partner, Courtney E. Martin, together from their vantage points as a designer and storyteller, who are currently the first guest curators in residence at the Autodesk Gallery.

Focused on actual projects in use by real people around the world as well as “Products, Places, and Processes,” the exhibition includes everything from affordable solar lanterns and a life-saving infant warmer, to a couple of San Francisco’s popular parklets to a hospital in rural Rwanda, to a global ideas-sharing platform and sanitation system in Ghana–all designed or redesigned for the public good. The opening will coincide with Autodesk’s second monthly “Design Night,” including music, drinks, food, and fun activities. Thereafter it is expected to remain on display and travel for the next 4-5 years.

Click here to register for Public Interest Design Night, and stay tuned for more information about the exhibition itself.

September 12, 2012

NYT: “Projects Without Architects Steal the Show”

“Save for a few projects and pavilions, probably the less said, the better, about “Common Ground,” the 13th Venice Architecture Biennale, organized by the fine British architect David Chipperfield.” So starts out Michael Kimmelman‘s latest column as architecture critic of The New York Times. It is a brutally honest review of the Biennale and the design profession’s ongoing crises, albeit one with kernels of hope–as “Projects Without Architects Steal the Show.”

The exhibition still positions architects as producers of surplus value through aesthetic quality, less so as players at the decision-making table, organizing cities and communities. Cautious, dated, with too many cooks (Mr. Chipperfield farmed out many sections to friends like Mr. Foster), the show suggests above all an uncertainty about how to unpack, evaluate, present and tame the messy, multilayered social, political, economic and architectural processes that go into making good buildings and places today.

Click here to read “Projects Without Architects Steal the Show,” online at

August 29, 2012

Venice Architecture Biennale Opens Today

Today, August 29, marks the official opening of the 13th International Venice Architecture Biennale. The overall theme of the Architecture Biennale, as determined by architect David Chipperfield, is “Common Ground.” (The U.S. Pavilion, curated by Cathy Lang Ho and covered extensively by Architect Magazine, builds on the overall theme with Spontaneous Interventions: Design Actions for the Common Good.) On the main Biennale website, Chipperfield explains, in compelling terms, why he chose this year’s overall theme of “Common Ground”:

“To encourage my colleagues to react against the prevalent professional and cultural tendencies of our time that place such emphasis on individual and isolated actions. I encouraged them instead to demonstrate the importance of influence and of the continuity of cultural endeavour, to illustrate common and shared ideas that form the basis of an architectural culture…I was inspired to direct this Biennale towards concerns of continuity, context, and memory, towards shared influences and expectations, and to address the apparent lack of understanding that exists between the profession and society.”

Click here to learn more about the Common Ground theme of the 13th International Venice Architecture Biennale.

August 27, 2012

Spontaneous Interventions Website Relaunched

The U.S. Pavilion team for the 13th International Venice Architecture Biennale today relaunched their official exhibition website, The exhibition itself, addressing the theme “Design Actions for the Common Good,” runs August 29-November 25, 2012. For those that can’t make the trip to Venice, however, the new website as well as the special issue of Architect Magazine (profiled here previously), both provide great windows into the show, the 124 projects, and the energy around them all. In their curators’ statement, Commissioner & Curator Cathy Lang Ho along with Co-Curators David van der Leer and Ned Cramer introduce the exhibition as follows:

Spontaneous Interventions celebrates a movement for democratic change in cities in the United States, inspired by a kindred activism around the world. The actions–planting abandoned lots, occupying and reprogramming public spaces, and generally making cities more beautiful, inclusive, productive, and healthy—are planning at its most direct, expressions of a desire for good places that cannot simply await the sanction of the “authorities” to find their form. As these small but powerful works multiply and coalesce, a just and sustainable city, a city of all its communities, is being born. This is a celebration of a long and vibrant history of urban activism and takes particular pride in representing the U.S. during the tenure of a president whose career began as an urban community organizer.

Click here to visit the newly redesigned website.

August 23, 2012

Architect Magazine Dedicated to Venice Biennale

This month’s newly-released issue of Architect Magazine, available in its entirety online here and as an interactive PDF here, documents the offerings of the U.S. Pavilion of the 13th International Venice Architecture Biennale. Addressing the theme “Spontaneous Interventions: Design Actions for the Common Good,” the exhibition itself as well as the issue represent the latest effort to capture the spirit and impact of public interest design. In her essay, curator Cathy Lang Ho writes:

In researching projects for the exhibition, we found hundreds of examples even before we issued an open call in January, which itself yielded over 450 compelling self-initiated urban improvements. We narrowed our choice to 124–the maximum number we could fit in the 4,000-square-foot permanent American pavilion in the Giardini, the public gardens of Venice–though we wish we could have included many more. We were expansive in our consideration of what qualifies as a “spontaneous intervention,” including projects that encroach on the territory of art and graffiti, well aware that some acts are more about self-expression than tactics for long-term change. Our goal was to find a diversity of original projects that transform public urban space to better serve the common good, seeking those that would add up to a useful archive of actionable strategies that could be replicated in other cities facing similar problems.

Click here to access the full interactive PDF version of this month’s Architect Magazine, or click here to access it online at

August 22, 2012

Graham Foundation Grants to Organizations

The Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts has announced its 2012 Grants to Organizations, with 43 awards totaling $413,000. (These are on top of $410,000 to 57 individuals from earlier this year.) The organizational grants will go to support “public programs around the world that demonstrate innovative approaches to understanding architecture and the designed environment.” Funded organizational projects include exhibitions, films, new media initiatives, publications, and other programs.

Among many others, a select few grantees in the public interest design space include: Archeworks New Practice program to “develop and test new definitions of socially responsible practice and promote actionable leadership and civic innovation among designers;” a major exhibition on the work of Studio Gang–well-known for its commitment to pro bono design–at the Art Institute of Chicago; and an exhibition, called “Architecture as Social Form,” to take place at the University of Toronto‘s Justina M. Barnicke Gallery.

Click here for more information on the Graham Foundation’s 2012 Grants to Organizations, online at Caption: Photo from Archeworks New Practice program profile.

August 2, 2012

Beyond Zuccotti Park Call for Posters

Occuprint (profiled here previously) in collaboration with the AIA Center for Architecture in New York are inviting the public “to expand the visual language and cultural expression of the conversation on public space and freedom assembly by submitting poster designs that provoke thought and dialogue.” The poster series is part of a larger, multi-partner exhibition, called Beyond Zuccotti Park, taking place September 6–21, 2012 at the Center for Architecture. The deadline for submissions is August 20, 2012.

Designs may consider the following questions: What is the public and what are public spaces? How do we define and how are we defined by our public spaces? How can we design and build our public spaces to facilitate civic participation? What are the processes and mechanisms of how public spaces are built and organized? How can we promote transparency in public space regulation and plurality in it use?

Click here for more information on the Beyond Zuccotti Park poster project.

February 15, 2012

MoMA’s “Foreclosed” Exhibition Opens

Today, February 15, through July 31, the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York is exhibiting “Foreclosed: Rehousing the American Dream,” described as “an exploration of new architectural possibilities for cities and suburbs in the aftermath of the recent foreclosure crisis.” The show is part of MoMA’s Issues in Contemporary Architecture series. It builds on work undertaken last year by five interdisciplinary teams of architects, ecologists, engineers, landscape designers, and urban ecologists, who conducted public workshops at MoMA PS1 to “envision new housing and transportation infrastructures that could catalyze urban transformation, particularly in the country’s suburbs.” The five teams were led by MOS, Visible Weather, Studio Gang, WORKac, and Zago Architecture. Each focused on a specific location within five “megaregions” across the country.

“Foreclosed” participant Jeanne Gang co-authored a New York Times op-ed last Thursday, touching on many of the themes from Studio Gang‘s exhibition work. She and co-author Greg Lindsay of NYU write, “[B]etter design is precisely what suburban America needs, particularly when it comes to rethinking the basic residential categories that define it, but can no longer accommodate the realities of domestic life. Designers and policy makers need to see the single-family house as a design dilemma whose elements–architecture, finance and residents’ desires–are inextricably linked.” Click here to read the full article.

Click here for more information on MoMA’s “Foreclosed: Rehousing the American Dream exhibition.”

January 20, 2012

Venice Architecture Biennale Call for Projects

Formally announced on Wednesday with a new dedicated website, “Spontaneous Interventions: design actions for the common good” is the theme of the U.S. Pavilion this fall at the 13th International Venice Architecture Biennale, August 29 to November 25, 2012. Now in its 13th edition, the Venice Architecture Biennale was formally established in 1980 and is held every other year (alternating with the Venice Art Biennale, which was first held in 1895). Presented by the Bureau of Educational & Cultural Affairs of the U.S. Department of State, the U.S. Pavilion theme was proposed by Cathy Lang Ho through the Institute for Urban Design with Ned Cramer of Architect Magazine serving as a co-curator.

In recent years, there has been a nascent movement of designers acting on their own initiative to solve problematic urban situations, creating new opportunities and amenities for the public. Provisional, improvisational, guerrilla, unsolicited, tactical, temporary, informal, DIY, unplanned, participatory, open-source–these are just a few of the words that have been used to describe this growing body of work…They share an optimistic willingness to venture outside conventional practice and to deploy fresh tactics to make cities more sustainable, accessible, and inclusive.

Click here for more information about the U.S. Pavilion, including project submission guidelines for the upcoming February 6, 2012 deadline.

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