Coming to a City Near You!

Public Interest Design: Training Program

There is a growing sector in the field of architecture known as Public Interest Design documented in exhibits such as MoMA’s Small Scale, Big Change and publications like Design Like You Give Damn. The projects in this sector are unlike traditional practice in critical ways and are an area of great potential for the future of the profession.

The Public Interest Design Institute® will provide training to architecture and other design professionals in public interest design with in-depth study over two days on methods of how design can address the critical issues faced by communities. Training in public interest design is a way of enhancing an existing design practice and learning skills to become pro-actively engaged in community-based design.

The Harvard Case Method will be used to learn from examples. These case studies and best practices will be presented and discussed by leaders in the field. The curriculum will be formed around the Social Economic Environmental Design┬« (SEED) metric, a set of standards that outlines the process and principles of this growing approach to design. SEED goes beyond green design with a “triple bottom line” approach that includes the social and economic as well as the environmental. The SEED process takes a holistic, creative approach to design driven by community needs. This process provides a step-by-step aid for those who want to undertake public interest design.

Continuing education credits will be given as required of professionals by the American Institute of Architects as well as a certification in the SEED process.

Learning objectives will address:

    • Finding new clients and public interest design projects
    • Learning about new fee sources and structures
    • Using a step-by-step process of working with a community as a design partner
    • Leveraging other partners and assets to address project challenges
    • Maximizing a project’s positive impact on a community
    • Moving beyond LEED to measure the social, economic, and environmental impact on communities
    • Understanding public interest design and how is it re-shaping the design professions

The Academic Leader of each session is Bryan Bell, the founder of Design Corps, founder of the Public Interest Design Institute, and a co-founder of SEED. Bell has supervised the Structures for Inclusion lecture series for thirteen years which presents best practices in community-based design. He has published two collections of essays on the topic, Bell has lectured and taught at numerous schools including the Rural Studio with Samuel Mockbee. He has received an AIA National Honor Award in Collaborative Practice. His work has been exhibited in the Venice Biennale and the Cooper Hewitt Museum Triennial. He was a Harvard Loeb Fellow in 2010-11 and a co-recipient of the 2011 AIA Latrobe Prize which is focused on public interest design. Other speakers will be national leaders of this emerging field.

Upcoming Institutes:

Harvard, MA – July 28-29, 2014

Public Interest Design Mexico – Sept 11-12, 2014

Charlotte, NC – October 24-25, 2014

Houston, TX – October 4 + 5, 2014


Public Interest Design Institutes are made possible by funding from the Surdna Foundation.