2007 was an incredible year for the organization. It's hard to believe that in just 12 months we have completed our 100th project - compared with just 7 two years ago - more than 14,000 people directly benefited from built solutions and we provided professional design services on four continents, with over 250 volunteers, designers and architects.
Many new projects were undertaken, especially in Biloxi, MS and New Orleans, LA, while most of our long-term post-tsunami reconstruction programs were completed. We helped out after the Peru Earthquake and the Southern California wildfires, while Siyathemba broke ground in Khula, South Africa and the Ipuli Center of Excellence in Tanzania, designed by gillilandtolila, moved into its’ construction stage.
Thinking back over the past year I am reminded every day by our clients that for more than 5 billion people, sustainable design is not a luxury. It is a matter of survival. In 2007 no one exemplified the power of design to uplift and inspire better than Architecture for Humanity’s hundreds of volunteers, local chapters and design fellows.
January began with a visit to Tokyo with the Japan Society however the best design conference of the year happened a few weeks later in Cape Town, South Africa. Design Indaba is an incredible blend of African and Western architecture and design talent with over 2400 conference attendees and 25,000 exhibition visitors. It was pretty daunting to speak in front of thousands of innovative African designers – many of whom could have graced the stage.
Open Architecture Network launches
The spring was dominated with the build out of the Open Architecture Network. Engineers from Sun Microsystems were busy working to complete the site ready for launch at the 2007 TED conference. We actually ‘went live’ midway through the launch. In less than nine months almost 8800 people have registered to use the site and more than 1100 projects have been uploaded. In the coming year we are looking to launch the resources section, add further project management tools and become the first site to fully integrate the Autodesk Freewheel application.
We also recently launched a beta version of Architecture for Humanity's new website. It is built on the same Drupal open source content management system as the Open Architecture Network, allowing us to simultaneously update the site through the OAN. Once refined, we will build sites for all our chapters and help coordinate the entire Architecture for Humanity network. Additionally we are looking to develop a mechanism that will allow designers to do the same on their site. Utilize the project management system of the OAN, while auto-magically updating your own site. This is part of a digital ecosystem that was fundamental to the wish we made when we were awarded the 2006 TED Prize. Special thanks to Chris Anderson and the whole TED community for sticking with us and helping make this wish come true.
Forging new partnerships
In May we spoke at the AIA conference, thanks to our friends at Google SketchUp, and at the Canadian Architectural Conference. A number of our staff members went on Habitat builds (always fun) and Habitat for Humanity contacted us to try to find them an architect for a project in Georgia. In terms of fiscal sponsorship and project partnerships, we also worked with Housing Operative in Detroit as well as find architectural services for NextAID in South Africa, the TunaHaki orphanage in Tanzania (supported by Herman Miller) and the MNSLFF Learning Center in Hikkaduwa, Sri Lanka, designed by AFH Minnesota. Currently we are partnering with Architecture for Humanity San Francisco on the Bay View Model Block Program to help redevelop the 1700 block of Newcomb Avenue in SF.
AMD Open Architecture Challenge
During the summer we launched the AMD Open Architecture Challenge with three clients, Kallari Association in Ecuador, SIDAREC in Kenya and Nyaya Health in Nepal. These clients were selected from 108 community groups from around the world by an advisory group made up of forty scientists, engineers, architects and development officials. The diverse group, that included Hunter Lovins to Erik Charas to Cameron Diaz, spent weeks reading through applications before selecting the final three. We completed site visits late fall (the final visit to Kallari takes place tomorrow!) and the team has uploaded photos, videos and information on each site.
You have 50 days to go – more than enough time to register and design solution that will affect the lives of thousands. Advanced Micro Devices [AMD] and the 50x15 initiative is awarding up to $250,000 to implement the winning entry. Additionally each of the three site winners will be awarded funds (1/3rd of the entry fee) to fly to the site and work with the client to refine your solution.
Rebuilding the gulf coast one block at a time
The fall saw many happy faces on the Gulf Coast as families began to inhabit new homes designed by the Biloxi Model Home Program and supported by Oprahs’ Angel Network, the McCormick Tribune Foundation and others. While these homes are not the most cutting edge in ‘green design’ they are pragmatic and appropriate design solutions based on the needs of individual families. For us, the Gulf Coast is not an opportunity ‘to experiment’ but a situation where innovative designers can work hand in hand with families to create affordable and replicable homes. Hats off to Brett Zamore Design, MC2 Architects, CP+D Workshop, Huff and Gooden Architects, Jeanne Gang and Marlon Blackwell Architect, Arup, Carlos Gutierrez and Blackrock Engineering. Extra kudos for the team that helped laed the charge on the ground, including the rock solid Michael Grote and the energetic Sherry-Lea Bloodworth. If there is one thing we’ve learned if you want to build change in a community, you have to live in that community.
While we cheer on these new homes built by these young and emerging practices let us not forget the hundreds of homes that the Gulf Coast Community Design Studio has worked on. David Perkes and his merry band of designers deserve every award in the book for helping bring back East Biloxi. Close to 40% of East Biloxi is back because of resourceful groups GCCDS, Hands On Network and others. In New Orleans, Loci Architecture donated their services to the Guillian House, Rockwell Group designed an incredible center for the Guardians’ Institute, Maureen Ness worked on the Saloy House, John Dwyer joined NENA and is working on dozens of homes. All in all Hurricane Katrina should not defined by the disaster that struck the coast but also by the hundreds of architects who stood up and made a difference.
Rocking End of Year Party and 'pimp our space' begins
In the fall we moved into new office space in downtown San Francisco. Our colleagues at Hot Studio had outgrown their space at 848 Folsom St. and gave us the heads up on some great studio space. It was enough for us to spread our wings out of the space donated by Dr. Dean and Anne Ornish and into a raw loft space ready for some pimping.
As December rolled around we decided to finally throw a holiday party, along with Inhabitat, Ecolect, Urban Re:Vision and Web 3D. I guess when you mention ‘open bar’ in a newsletter with less than 24 hours notice you should still be prepared to have 300+ folks swamped our new office space. In the coming months we will be playing host to a variety of organizations including the Bay Area Architects and Architecture for Humanity SF. We are also practicing what we preach by ‘open sourcing’ the design of our own office. On January 3rd 2008 we will hold the first meeting to redesign the space and we invite anyone to collaborate on what the space should look like. Steelcase, Technion, Humanscale and Interface have all come on board to help us create an eco-lab for like-minded designers.
There is a lot in store for 2008, including the scaling of one of our design competitions on a continent wide level. This means that ANY design from that specific competition is eligible to be realized. (oh, and an estimated 2 Billion people will see your work). Additionally we are exploring changing our operational structure to create region-based offices, beginning with Cape Town, South Africa and Chennai, India. In the spring, site winners of the AMD Open Architecture Challenge will be selected and by the fall the overall winner will be built.
Finally for those entering the Challenge – entries that are completed by January 15, 2008 will be presented at the 2008 World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland to world political and business leaders. For those who need an extra bit of time – not to worry the submission deadline is on February 14, 2008 – Happy Valentines’ Day.
It is never easy for us to say goodbye to those who’ve dedicated their time, passion and drive in the organization. While we grew in numbers we were also sad to see a couple of die-hard AFHers move on. In house Ruthann Martin, Kari Iverson and Sola Morrisey departed us. A number of Design Fellows finished their "tour of duty" and we are certainly proud of all the hard work they put in. Susi Platt returned to the UK after 18 months in Sri Lanka – snapped up within days of arriving home by http://www.richardrogers.co.uk/render.aspx?siteID=1&navIDs=1,2" target="_blank">Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners (formerly Richard Rogers Partnership). On the Gulf Coast Sherry-Lea Bloodworth left to head up a new Housing Recovery Center in Hancock County, Mississippi. Tracy Nelson dovetailed into historic preservation on the coast (pun intended). We miss them and we thank them for their dedication.
By The Numbers
44,000 Newsletter Members
39,000 Total Beneficiaries since 1999
14,000 Beneficiaries in 2007
8,793 Number of registered users on the OAN
4,380 Number of cups of coffee drunk in our offices
2,700 Active Volunteers working on projects in 2007
371 Buildings Completed
78 Number of times people called our office to talk to Brad Pitt
47 Local Chapters (in 5 countries)
36 Current Projects
30 Professional Firms partnering on projects
12 Number of chairs provided by Steelcase
11 Design Fellows
6 Full time staff members
1 Number of sword shaped bottles of rum in the office (unopened)
88% Construction and Design Funding
9% Administrative Costs
3% Fundraising and Outreach
Unless noted, all job opportunities require a full resume and at least 3 digital work samples. You may upload work samples (projects) to the Open Architecture Network. Most of the positions require some international travel and you must also create your own job title - Eternal Optimist and Creative Realist already taken. If you are interested in any of the positions below please send your documents to Kate Stohr at firstname.lastname@example.org. Full descriptions of the jobs will appear on our site in the next few days.
Chief Financial Officer
2 Programs Managers
Associate Development Director/Executive Assistant
Web Communications Manager
Regional Design Director - Cape Town, South Africa
African-based design firms (and Siyathemba entrants!)
Onsite Construction Manager for the Open Architecture Challenge
Current Volunteer Opportunities
Kutamba AIDS orphans' school - Nyakishenyi, Uganda
Habitat for Humanity - Americus, Georgia, USA
Nena - New Orleans, MS, USA
Gulf Coast Community Design Studio - Biloxi, MS, USA