Pro Bono

AIA infographic on service and volunteering

AIArchitect, the email newsletter of the American Institute of Architects, has dedicated today’s issue to what it calls “emerging professionals”–those AIA members within their first ten years of licensed practice. The image above–“Allow time for volunteering opportunities”–is presented as one of “10 Ways Architects Can Support the Next Generation.” With this infographic and message, the AIA sadly, if accurately positions service to the public as outside the traditional practice of architecture and the licensure process as they exist today. (The lone mention of pro bono service links to a June 2007 document, adapted from an even older AIArchitect article.)

The AIA could do so much more to encourage and facilitate public service and lifelong careers of service. It need not look much further than the example provided by the American Bar Association, which runs a decade’s old Center for Pro Bono, supports a cadre of public interest lawyers, and innumerable other related efforts internally and externally. Thankfully, a small, but vibrant breed of public interest architectural internships provide viable models, just begging to be replicated and scaled. Bridging the Gap: Public-Interest Architectural Internships, a new book edited by Georgia Bizios and Katie Wakeford, catalogs those many of those models, as profiled here and here previously.

Click here to view AIArchitect’s infographics on emerging professionals.

Skyscraper Museum, pro bono

Today’s quick post is a project completed in 2004 for the nonprofit Skyscraper Museum in New York City, which had been displaced from its previous home following September 11, 2001, due to its proximity to Ground Zero. The museum’s new and permanent space, which it owns, was generously donated by developers Millennium Partners, designed pro bono by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM), and built pro bono by Tishman Construction Corporation.

The museum now includes a gallery for ever-evolving exhibitions, a bookstore, and a mezzanine for staff offices. The highly-polished stainless steel floors and ceilings as well as other reflective surfaces mirror the visual effect of skyscrapers themselves, drawing the eye upward.

Co.Design: “Five Myths About Pro Bono Design”

Earlier this year, FastCompany‘s Co.Design published a provocative, sometimes comical, and overall insightful infographic by Jessica Hische, “Designers, Should You Work for Free?” The dizzyingly intricate flowchart immediately went viral among designers, as it perfectly encapsulated the ambivalence and frustration so many feel about being repeatedly asked to do friends a solid without any compensation, at best, and without any consideration as to how much time and energy good design actually takes, at worst. It also used a common catchphrase that often gets bandied about in the design world (and beyond): pro bono.

In his first contribution to Co.Design, published yesterday, PublicInterestDesign.org‘s own John Cary debunks Five Myths About Pro Bono Design.” Cary explains that, for starters, all-too-often the term “pro bono is used without much context and, too often, without real accuracy.”

The image above accompanied the article on Co.Design and was sourced from Flickr user Pineapple 9995.

Co.Design: "Five Myths About Pro Bono Design"

Earlier this year, FastCompany‘s Co.Design published a provocative, sometimes comical, and overall insightful infographic by Jessica Hische, “Designers, Should You Work for Free?” The dizzyingly intricate flowchart immediately went viral among designers, as it perfectly encapsulated the ambivalence and frustration so many feel about being repeatedly asked to do friends a solid without any compensation, at best, and without any consideration as to how much time and energy good design actually takes, at worst. It also used a common catchphrase that often gets bandied about in the design world (and beyond): pro bono.

In his first contribution to Co.Design, published yesterday, PublicInterestDesign.org‘s own John Cary debunks Five Myths About Pro Bono Design.” Cary explains that, for starters, all-too-often the term “pro bono is used without much context and, too often, without real accuracy.”

The image above accompanied the article on Co.Design and was sourced from Flickr user Pineapple 9995.

Profile: a verynice design studio

A new model in the practice of pro bono design is a verynice design studio, a social enterprise, full-service design practice, started in 2009 by Los Angeles-based designer Matthew Manos. Working for over 100 clients–as diverse as a high school in Vancouver and the United Nations–a verynice design studio operates with 40 volunteers internationally is “dedicated to helping those who help others.” 70-80% of its work is done on a pro bono basis, with the remaining work financially supporting the organization’s efforts. Their wide-ranging work was featured in The Huffington Post in mid-May, but in the official words of its website:

The studio provides visual communication services that ranges from brand identities and websites, to motion graphics and magazines. Services are provided to deserving organizations, groups, and individuals at no charge. We are a collective of designers, futurists, activists, environmentalists, teachers, strategists, students, authors, friends, and verynice people, working together.

Click here to learn more about a verynice design studio.

Should I Work for Free?

Earlier this year, Co.Design published a provocative, sometimes comical, and overall insightful infographic, titled, “Designers, Should You Work for Free?” The dizzyingly intricate flowchart immediately went viral among designers as it perfectly encapsulated the ambivalence and frustration so many feel about being repeatedly asked to do friends a solid without any compensation, at best, and without any consideration as to how much time and energy good design actually takes, at worst.

One common catchphrase was used loosely, if sparingly in the handiwork of Brooklyn-based designer Jessica Hische: pro bono. But contrary to popular opinion, pro bono doesn’t mean for free. Its literal Latin translation is “for good,” shorthand for pro bono publico, “for the good of the public.” (The accurate Latin phrase for “free” is actually gratis.) All that said, pro bono work usually involves professionals reducing or entirely waiving their fees, hence the confusion, but the focus remains on work for the public good.