Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Architecture to Community Service

I graduated from North Carolina State University with my BEDA (4 year degree) in 2007. I worked at a small firm for a little over a year, but decided to step away from the profession because I saw that most of the work I did mostly served the wealthy, and not those individuals who, in my opinion, really needed good design because of poor housing and living conditions. So, needless to say, I walked away from the profession in 2008 only to discover in 2010 that there are Architects & Firms, specifically Design Corps located in Raleigh, that seek to "create positive change in communities by providing architecture and planning services." I was thrilled; and also a little disappointed that I did not learn about this earlier.

So here I am. After working in an unrelated field - Project Administration & Volunteer Coordination - I am wanting to jump back in the profession & start a non-profit design group that offers good design to those who otherwise could not afford it. My question for you is, what would be the best way to go about this? I do have my Bachelors in Environmental & Architectural Design from an accredited school, but was wondering if it would be necessary for me to go back to school to get my bachelors or master's when my goal is not to become a licensed architect (as of now). My goal is to focus more on residential and community revitalization.

Your thoughts would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!


First, congrats on making the decision to use your architectural education towards good design.

Regardless of the venue - architectural firm, community design center, non-profit, I suspect you will have more success by obtaining your Master of Architecture and become licensed. It will create more options for you in the long run.

To start, I would contact organizations such as Design Corps, Peace Corps, Architecture for Humanity and others to inquire about becoming involved. Do you volunteer?

Is there a way to pursue a paid position with them.

Below a number of groups to pursue. Another is Assn. for Community Design - http://www.communitydesign.org

Just get started and see where it leads you. Keep learning and asking questions until you get what you want and need.

1201 New York Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20525
AmeriCorps is a network of national service programs that engage more than 50,000 Americans each year in intensive service to meet critical needs in education, public safety, health, and the environment.

Architects without Borders
295 Neva Street
Sebastopol, CA 95472
Architects without borders is a non-governmental, not-for-profit, volunteer humanitarian relief organization

Architecture for Humanity
848 Folsom, Suite 201
San Francisco, CA 94107-1173
(415) 963-3511
Architecture for Humanity promotes architectural and design solutions to global, social and humanitarian crises. Through competitions, workshops, educational forums, partnerships with aid organizations and other activities, Architecture for Humanity creates opportunities for architects and designers from around the world to help communities in need.

Architects, Designers, and Planners for Social Responsibility
P.O. Box 18375
Washington, DC 20036-8375
(415) 974-1306
Architects/Designers/Planners for Social Responsibility (ADPSR) works for peace, environmental protection, ecological building, social justice, and the development of healthy communities.

Association for Community Design (ACD)
P.O. Box 712308
Los Angeles, CA 90071-7308 USA
Established in 1977, the Association for Community Design (ACD) is a network of individuals, organizations, and institutions committed to increasing the capacity of planning and design professions to better serve communities. ACD serves and supports practitioners, educators, and organizations engaged in community-based design and planning.

Design Corps
302 Jefferson Street #250
Raleigh, NC 27605
(919) 828-0048
Founded in 1991, Design Corps is a private nonprofit that was created to coordinate design services that help create responsive affordable housing. Respect for those housed, the local communities and cultures involved are encouraged. Motto: Design for the 98% Without Architects.

Habitat For Humanity International
121 Habitat St.
Americus, GA 31709-3498
(229) 924-6935
Habitat for Humanity is a nonprofit Christian housing ministry that works to build or renovate homes for the inadequately sheltered in the United States and in twenty countries around the world.

The Mad Housers, Inc.
534 Permalume Place
Atlanta, GA 30318
(404) 806-6233
Mad Housers, Inc. is an Atlanta-based non-profit corporation engaged in charitable work, research, and education. Their primary endeavor is building temporary, emergency shelters for homeless individuals and families regardless of race, creed, national origin, gender, religion, age, family status, sexual orientation, etc.

Peace Corps
Paul D. Coverdell Peace Corps Headquarters
1111 20th Street, NW
Washington, D.C. 20526
Established in 1961 by President John F. Kennedy, the Peace Corps has shared with the world America's most precious resource—its people. Peace Corps Volunteers serve in 72 countries in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, Central and South America, Europe, and the Middle East. Collaborating with local community members, volunteers work in areas like education, youth outreach and community development, the environment, and information technology.

Public Architecture
1126 Folsom St., #3
San Francisco, CA 94102-1397
(415) 861-8200
Established in 2002, Public Architecture is a nonprofit organization that identifies and solves practical problems of human interaction in the built environment. It acts as a catalyst for public discourse through education, advocacy, and the design of public spaces and amenities.

Dr. Architecture

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