“In America’s Poorest City, a Housing Breakthrough”


The Atlantic’s City Lab recently featured the revitalization work in Brownsville, Texas, being led by bcWorkshop and the Community Development Corporation of Brownsville (CDBC). From multi-unit ‘colonias’ to disaster relief housing, the architect-developer collaboration is changing the design and delivery of housing to the city’s poorest residents at a pace that “New York developers might envy,” reports Amanda Kolson Hurley. Working within CDCB’s aim to build 150 houses each year, bcWORKSHOP has been able to prove the value of design to the rapid building process to the developer, which in turn has affected the residents, neighborhood, and local government’s perception of design. CDCB Executive Director Nick Mitchell-Bennett explains:

High-quality designs get local officials excited. When they’re excited, they’ll try to do whatever it takes to make sure the buildings end up looking that way—like supporting the intensive community engagement that both CDCB and bcWorkshop insist on.

Click here to read “In America’s Poorest City, a Housing Breakthrough,” online at CityLab.com.

Learn HCD Online with IDEO.org and +Acumen


Together with the announcement of the HCD Connect relaunch as Design Kit, IDEO.org is hosting the third online human-centered design course this month. Beginning October 14th, the free, seven-week course offers an introductory course to anyone interested in the popular IDEO design methodology. Over a period of 50 days, teams of 2-6 will learn not only the methodology but also gain hands-on experience working on real world challenges. Registration closes on October 13th.

You will learn the human-centered design process by applying it to one of three pre-crafted real world design challenges (provided in the course). Each week you will explore the main human-centered design concepts through readings, case studies, and short videos. Then you’ll be expected to meet in-person with your design team to get your hands dirty practicing the relevant human-centered design methods.

Click here to learn more and sign up for ‘Design Kit: The Course for Human-Centered Design,’ online at PlusAcumen.org.

New Video on Winnipeg’s Central Park Neighborhood Revitalization

In-Context Videos–a video documentary series on contemporary Canadian architecture–recently released a fascinating short video on Winnipeg’s multicultural Central Park neighborhood. In association with the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada, co-producers and directors Raja Moussaoui and Andrea Lacalamita focus on the role of public engagement for two contemporary projects: Centre Village, an affordable housing development designed by 5468796 architecture; and Central Park Revitalization designed by Scatliff + Miller + Murray. Featuring perspectives from both residents and the designers, Moussaoui and Lacalamita provide a fresh look at how these projects address a place representing a myriad cultures and customs.

Click here to watch ‘Centre Village & Central Park’ on Vimeo.com, or click here to learn more about In-Context Video series on InContextVideos.com.

Call for Entries to 2015 ArtPlace Grants Program


Since 2011, ArtPlace’s National Grants Program has contributed $56.8 million to 189 projects in 122 communities across 42 states and the District of Columbia. Entering the fifth cycle of funding, ArtPlace has refined their criteria, honed their mission, and clarified priorities to better support creative placemaking. With $10 million dedicated to support 40 projects in 2015, ArtPlace has reserved 50% of funding for creative placemaking projects in the following communities:

  • Communities of all sizes in Alaska, California, and Minnesota
  • Rural communities throughout Arizona, Iowa, the Upper Peninsula in Michigan, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Texas, and Wisconsin
  • The cities of Akron, OH; Boston, Cambridge, and Somerville, MA; Charlotte, NC; Detroit, MI; Macon, GA; Miami, FL; Greater Philadelphia, PA; San Jose, CA; and St. Paul, MN
  • Performing arts organizations and practitioners of folk, traditional, and Native American arts

ArtPlace is also particularly interested in projects from states in which it has not yet granted, including Delaware, Montana, New Hampshire, Nevada, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Utah, and Wyoming. Letters of Inquiry from individuals and teams are being accepted now through November 3rd.

Click here to learn more and apply for the 2015 ArtPlace National Grants Program, online at ArtPlaceAmerica.org./LOI.

Eone’s Bradley Watch Reaches $1M in Sales

Over a year ago, we shared Eone’s Kickstarter campaign for “The Bradley,” a timepiece inspired by Special Olympics Gold Medalist Bradley Snyder, a Navy Seal vet who was blinded by an IED explosion in Afghanistan in 2011. After a wildly successful Kickstarter campaign–one of the all-time most-funded design campaigns ever–Eone founder Hyungsoo Kim and his team recently celebrated a major milestone: $1 million in sales in a little over a year since launching the product.  “By creating a timepiece that’s fashionable and functionable, we’re supporting something we truly believe in: universal design,” said Kim. Along with booming business, Eone was nominated for the London Design Museum’s 2014 Design of the Year Award and celebrities Stevie Wonder, Auggie Anderson, and Christine Ha have helped raise awareness and support for the product as well.

The Bradley is a watch you can touch to tell time, which means everyone can use it, including people who are vision-impaired. Combining beautiful form and exceptional function, the tactile timepiece is a striking example of the power of universal design.

Click here to learn more about eone and The Bradley, online at Eone-Time.com.

Structures for Inclusion 15 Announced


Mark your calendars for the fifteenth annual Structures for Inclusion Conference, taking place on April 11th and 12th, 2015, at host organization Lawrence Technological University in Detroit, Michigan. Convening public interest design practitioners, partners, and enthusiasts to share the best ideas and practices, the 2015 theme of “Resilience of Mind, Body and Spirit” responds to Detroit’s pivotal move into a “new kind of post-industrial world order.” More information on the event will be released in the months ahead.

Click here to learn more about SFI 15, online at DesignCorps.org.

$5M Knight Cities Challenge Call for Entries

The Knight Foundation is now accepting submissions to the Knight Cities Challenge, a $5 million grant program to help spur civic innovation at city, neighborhood, and block levels. From now until November 14th, individuals or teams are encouraged to submit short project proposals that focus on one or all three drivers: attracting talented people, expanding economic opportunity and creating a culture of civic engagement. Projects must take place in or benefit one or more of the 26 Knight communities–all locations where the Knight brothers once owned newspapers. The 2014 contest closes at 5pm ET on Friday November 14, 2014.

Imagine what could happen if we could gather up ideas from America’s most ambitious civic innovators – activists, designers, artists, planning professionals, hackers, architects, city officials, educators, nonprofits, entrepreneurs, block captains, social workers, neighbors  – and put them to work in cities across the nation over the next 18 months. And then imagine that we introduce these civic innovators to one another to share and spread their ideas. We believe we may be at the beginning of a new movement to unleash big ideas from everywhere for making our cities successful. We invite you to be part of that movement by submitting your idea to the Knight Cities Challenge.

Click here to learn more and submit your idea to the Knight Cities Challenge, online at KnightCities.org.

ARCHIVE Global Named Top Sustainability Idea on Forbes

Architecture nonprofit ARCHIVE Global was recently named by Forbes as one of eight best sustainability ideas on the planet. With a goal to reduce disease and infection in Bangladesh, the team recently launched the High Fives project that employs a simple housing design intervention: replace dirt floors with concrete floors. Although appearing as a small intervention that many of us take for granted, dirt floors carry parasites, viruses and bacteria that can cause diarrhea, a fatal disease for children under five living in these conditions. First piloted in February 2014, ten families received concrete floors and in four weeks following the intervention, 0% of the participating households reported episodes of diarrhea among children under the age of five. ARCHIVE global is now organizing a campaign to help more families build concrete floors and improve their health.

“Childhood mortality is at the forefront of development discussions right now. ARCHIVE has developed a simple, cost-effective housing design that can be quickly implemented to drastically impact the rate at which children are dying.” – ARCHIVE Executive Director Peter Williams

Click here to learn more about High Fives on ARCHIVEGlobal.org, or click here to read about all 8 of the World’s Best Sustainability Ideas on Forbes.com.

AfH NY Hosting ‘Day of Impact’ This Month


Architecture for Humanity New York is holding a Day of Impact on Saturday, October 25th, 2014, in collaboration with the fourth annual Archtober, a month-long festival of architecture activities, programs and exhibitions in New York City. Volunteers are invited to work on one-day service projects throughout New York City to provide positive impacts in areas of need. From rebuilding homes damaged by Hurricane Sandy in Queens to building an urban farm in Brooklyn, the seven opportunities offer up a variety of fun, educational, and impactful ways to spend a Saturday. Registration to participate is open now until October 10th. More

Van Alen Announces National Parks Competition


As the National Parks Service prepares to celebrate its centennial in 2016, the Van Alen Institute has partnered with the national organization to create the National Parks Now competition. Four parks in the Northeast Region of America have been identified as case studies for “attracting diverse audiences, telling new stories, and engaging the next generation of visitors at a time of fast-evolving technologies, regional contexts, and audience expectations.” The competition invites multidisciplinary, early career professional teams to submit RFQs for the first six-month phase of Research and Design. Four teams–one for each of four park sites–will then be selected from the pool of applicants and each team will receive a $15,000 stipend. Questions and pre-registration deadline is coming up soon on October 10, 2014.

National Parks Now calls on teams to propose a broad range of interventions—new learning tools, hands-on workshops, customizable self-led tours, site-specific leisure and exploration opportunities, digital narratives, short or long-term interactive installations, performance events, outreach and engagement campaigns, for example—to create new experiences that connect these parks to larger, more diverse audiences throughout the region, and develop a model for similar parks nationwide.

Click here to learn more and participate in National Parks Now, online at VanAlen.org.