Architecture for (Social) Responsibility




In my explorations of San Francisco, I came across a very innovative architectural exhibition. This was organized by American Institute for Architects, SF Chapter. The idea of the exhibition was to commend six architectural not-for-profit organizations and their contributions to Social Architecture.

These visionaries have shaped the urban landscape by designing affordable housing for the poorest San Franciscans (Asian Neighborhood Design); rebuilt Sri Lankan villages devastated by tsunamis (Architecture for Humanity); challenged our assumptions about the use of urban parking spaces (Rebar); plowed up urban sidewalks and created wildflower gardens (PlantSF); educated kids about careers in architecture (Architectural Foundation of San Francisco); and reshaped the possibilities of pro bono (voluntary without pay) service in the architecture profession (Public Architecture).

The innovative designs were amazing to see. The most simple one that I liked and I feel made a difference in our everyday urban experience was the re-greening of the pedestrian sidewalks. One of the organizations also looked at 'Parking Free' Days where conventional roadside car parking spaces were reconverted as 'peoples' spaces' ...spaces for living and recreation within the city instead of miles of parking fronting your homes.

It was interesting to see architects deeply involved in making everyday lives better for people....from affordable housing to urban spaces...in a way the exhibits reminded the architect in me to look beyond 'design for fees' and start learning and practicing architecture for social change!!

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