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After 5 Years, desigNYC Closing Up Shop


In 2009, a group of design leaders gathered to explore how to tap into the design for social change movement at a city level. desigNYC was born as a volunteer organization–and later made officially a nonprofit–to match designers with New York City-based nonprofits in need of design services and resources. After five years and over fifty projects matched between nonprofits and designers, the organization has made a difficult decision to close its doors after struggling to find a sustainable funding model. To conclude their efforts, desigNYC is hosting two events open to the public. More

2015 Rudy Bruner Award Call for Entries


The Rudy Bruner Award for Urban Excellence–a biennial celebration of urban places distinguished by quality design and social and economic contributions–have announced a Call for Entries for the 2015 cycle. Architecture, urban design and planning project entries must be a real place, not just a plan or a program, and located in the 48 contiguous United States. One Gold Medal of $50,000 and four Silver Medals of $10,000 will be awarded to use towards the project. Entries are due December 9th, 2014.

The Rudy Bruner Award for Urban Excellence (RBA) seeks to promote innovative thinking about the built environment and advance conversation about making cities better. The national award discovers and celebrates urban places that are distinguished by quality design along with their social and economic contributions to our nation’s cities. The award was founded in 1986 by architect and developer Simeon Bruner and named in honor of his late father.

Click here to learn more and enter the 2015 Rudy Bruner Award for Urban Excellence, online at BrunerFoundation.org.

New MASS Video on “Design that Heals”

MASS Design Group recently released the sixth video in their Beyond the Building series–a year-long campaign to explore how architecture and design can improve the lives of people around the world. Featuring a diarrheal disease treatment center in Haiti and a district hospital in Rwanda, co-founder Alan Ricks describes, “MASS has seen that around the world there is an opportunity for architecture to actually help improve the health outcomes of communities.” Partners in Health‘s Dr. Peter Drobac describes the initial emotional impact projects like these have had on underserved communities:

People cried when they saw three-dimensional renderings of what their hospital would look like someday and couldn’t believe it. One woman said, “I don’t believe this is for us. It must be a hotel. It must be something else.”

Click here to watch the full video on Vimeo.com, or click here to learn more about Beyond the Building series on MASSDesignGroup.org.

2015 Berkeley Prize Call for Essay Proposals


The seventeenth annual Berkeley Prize–an endowment established by Judith Stronach in the Department of Architecture at the University of California, Berkeley–is now accepting submissions for the 2015 Essay Prize Competition. This year’s topic is “Architects Confront Poverty” with the question posed: “Which architects, individuals, or institutions have made an effort to improve the living, working, education, and recreation places for the poor and underserved in your community?” Full-time undergraduate students enrolled in any architecture program (or teams of two students, one of whom may be from a collateral discipline) are invited to submit a 500-word essay proposal by November 1, 2014. Twenty-five semifinalists will then be selected to submit 2,500-word essays and invited to submit proposals for the 2015 Travel Fellowship.

Each year, the PRIZE Committee selects a topic critical to the discussion of the social art of architecture and poses a Question based on that topic. From the pool of essay proposals received, approximately 25 are selected by the PRIZE Committee as particularly promising. The 25 selected individual students, or student teams, become Semifinalists. These Semifinalists are invited to submit a 2,500-word essay, again in English, expanding on their proposals. A group of readers, composed of Committee members and invited colleagues, selects five-to-eight of the best essays and sends these Finalist essays to a jury of international academics and architects to select the winners. At the conclusion of the Essay Competition submittals, all Semifinalists are also invited to submit for one of several BERKELEY PRIZE Travel Fellowships.

Click here to read more and submit your Berkeley Prize essay proposal, online at BerkeleyPrize.org.

2014 Playable City Award Winner Announced


Watershed, an organization dedicated to producing, developing and showcasing exemplary creative cultural ideas and talent, recently announced Shadowing as the 2014 winner of its “Playable City Award.” The award challenges creatives from around the world to produce future-facing artwork that engages cities as playable, socially vibrant, and idiosyncratic public spaces, to complement – and perhaps counter – the increasingly utilitarian data-driven approach of the ‘Smart City.’

From September 11 to October 31, 2014, Jonathan Chomko and Matthew Rosier’s Shadowing gives memory to eight city lights in Bristol, England, enabling them to record and play back the shadows of those who pass underneath. People can walk alongside shadows from moments, days or weeks before, at times like ghostly time travellers, at others more like a playful Peter Pan. The project offers an exploration of the disconnectedness that technology can create between strangers, the role of light in creating a city’s character, and the unseen data layers and surveillance culture that pervades our contemporary urban spaces.

Click here to learn more about Shadowing, and browse through thePlayable City Award” 2014 Short List, online at Watershed.co.uk

Support Cards Against Urbanity on Kickstarter


GreaterPlaces and DoTankDC, two organizations dedicated to bringing urban planning and community design to the people, are seeking crowdfunding on Kickstarter for the production of a card game called “Cards Against Urbanity.” The game is meant to inspire humor in the often tedious, technical, and jargon-filled planning process. The team aims to raise $7,500 by Tuesday, October 21 2014 for the kit, which includes 234 cards, t-shirts, benches, and ‘cardsplainers’ to help non-planners get up to speed on how their cities and towns work.

Cards Against Urbanity is the perfect holiday gift for the architect, planner, engineer, real estate developer, or city-lover in your life. Like Apples to Apples & Cards Against Humanity, the game decks have question and answer cards. Players take turns judging a question round; he or she picks a card with a question about cities and neighborhoods.  Players then try to appeal to the judge by throwing down answer cards from their hand. It’s just like how real city planning happens!

Click here to learn more, and support Cards Against Urbanity by Tuesday, October 21 2014 10:19 AM ET, online at Kickstarter.org

IDEO.org Launches New ‘Design Kit’


Three years ago, IDEO.org unveiled HCD Connect, an online community platform to share human-centered design stories and methodologies with peers working on the world’s most difficult problems. Since then, over 57,000 members have joined the community. In response to the outpouring of engagement, this September they launched a new version of the platform, called Design Kit as the next step in its mission to spread human-centered design.

Design Kit includes over 50 human-centered design Methods, design-in-action Case Studies, and Mindsets, a suite of seven fantastic videos on the philosophy of human-centered design. We’re excited to share Design Kit because we strongly believe that it’s our best tool yet, and it will better serve you, our amazing community of creative problem-solvers, designers, and social sector innovators.

Click here to log in to the ‘Design Kit’ platform and learn more about IDEO’s suite of tools and resources, online at Ideo.org

D-Rev’s Krista Donaldson on “Design Gone Good”

At AutodeskDesign Night’ on September 4th, 2014, D-Rev’s CEO Krista Donaldson gave a brilliant presentation on “Design Gone Good” to a sold out crowd in the Autodesk Gallery. In this video, she illustrates how design can truly make a difference in people’s lives around the world. Using examples from D-Rev’s work in India, she explains how her organization has learned to think in terms of systems as opposed to products, leverage users and partners to adapt and scale, and iterate approaches to impact assessment.

I think when we talk about impact design, it is not just about what our products do, or how we can change industries, but ultimately about the greater good. As Nkosozana Dlamini-Zuma, Chairwoman of the African Union once said, It is important to understand that development is not a ‘nice to have;’ it’s essential for peace, for stability, and for progress in the world.

Click here to watch “Design Gone Good,” and click here to purchase tickets to upcoming Autodesk Design Nights, online at Autodesk.com/Impact.

In Tanzania, Fighting Poverty with Solar Power


In Tanzania, solar sales are booming. Roughly 86 percent of Tanzanians are without electricity, many living in rural villages situated miles away from the nearest electricity grid. The traditional reliance on charcoal, wood, and other biomass fuels leave villagers fettered to high costs and exposure to indoor air pollution, which kills more than 4 million people every year. Despite only a minuscule amount of capital going toward African clean tech, thousands of Tanzanians are beginning to invest out of pocket in small scale solar – from tiny flashlights like d.light to larger rooftop panel systems – and the boom isn’t just turning on the lights.

Design and technological improvements over the last several years have brought costs of solar down to a point where panels are increasingly being snapped up by rural people desperate for basic household lighting, said Shari Berenbach, president of the U.S. African Development Foundation, a federal agency that supports African entrepreneurs. The boom is empowering a new generation of homegrown creative entrepreneurship and opening up new economic opportunities for rural Africa.

Click here to read more about Tanzania’s small scale solar revolution, online at Grist.org.

Final Stretch of The High Line in NYC Now Open


The third phase of New York’s highly acclaimed urban preservation project officially opened on September 21st, 2014. Friends of the High Line invite the public to a series of events this week in celebration of the opening. “The High Line at the Rail Yards” marks the completion of a fourteen-year advocacy project that now connects the elevated rail from Gansevoort Street in Greenwich Village to 34th Street, between 10th and 12th Avenues. The High Line’s veteran collaborators James Corner Field Operations, architects Diller Scofidio + Renfro, and Dutch landscape designer Piet Oudolf realized the design of the northernmost section, as it makes a dramatic turn westward with stunning views of the Hudson River and of commuter trains lined up in Hudson Yards below.

Representing one-third of the entire High Line, the High Line at the Rail Yards section is one of the most iconic stretches of the High Line, with expansive views of the Hudson River and the Midtown skyline. Here, we were challenged to continue to build upon the identity and success of the existing High Line, yet find a different way to respond to the radically new, 21st-century context of the future Hudson Yards development [a 11-hectare development underway nearby expected to add 16 new skyscrapers to the city skyline]. This latter section along 12th Avenue is perhaps the most authentically subtle design, where the ‘original’ High Line landscape, with its self-sown grasses and flowers emerging from old tracks, wood ties, and stone ballast, remains intact.

Click here for a schedule of opening events this week, and learn more about the High Line, online at TheHighLine.org