“Impactful Business Models in Architecture”


‘The State of Practice’ is the focus of the AIA Young Architects Forum’s recent issue of Connection released last week. Available online for free, editor Jeff Pastva curated a solid sixteen pages on business models in architecture–a topic that compliments our current feature series on Pathways to Practice. Our own editor Katie Crepeau collaborated with verynice’s Matthew Manos to share socially-engaged practices in “Impactful Business Models in Architecture” through highlighting the online resource Models of Impact.

Last year, Matthew and his colleagues at verynice launched the Models of Impact website to share their findings and help more social entrepreneurs and designers understand the variety of social impact business model out there. The interactive map highlights over 100 brands and documents 45 thriving business models in both product- and service-oriented industries… Although it has attracted primarily startup incubation programs, coworking communities, academic institutions, social entrepreneurs, and nonprofit directors, Models of Impact can easily be applied to the architecture field in two ways: for architectural practices and for their client work and projects.

Read the full article on how architects (and designers) can use Models of Impact for their own practices, accompanied by three case studies of thriving practices, on Issuu here.

How to Get a Job in Impact Design

John Peterson, Founder and President of Public Architecture and recently appointed Curator of the Loeb Fellowship at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, has played a central role in the public interest design movement for over a decade. In a recent interview with Impact Design Hub’s Blaze Gonzalez and Gilad Meron, John shared his views on what the future of impact design looks like, where the jobs are and what skills designers will need to get those jobs. The video above scratches the surface of how to find a job in impact design and Gilad’s interview below takes a deeper dive into how John believes social impact design can be applied to any project, anywhere, by any firm, simply by analyzing six categories of impact.

Gilad Meron: Last year at Design Futures you gave a presentation about career paths in impact design. In particular, you spoke about what types of skills you thought students would need to find jobs in this field and you challenged them to think about alternative ways to gain those skills. What did you hope attendees would take away from that?

John Peterson: I could sense there was a lot of frustration and anxiety around the fact that there aren’t many jobs available in this field… it can be kind of paralyzing, people focused simply on that one question: where are the jobs? I really felt that was the wrong question. This field is too emergent to expect a tiered system of jobs and job tracks. It just doesn’t exist yet and you should stop waiting for it. More

Designing Here/Now at 2015 Core77 Conference


Core77 will be hosting it’s second annual conference in downtown Los Angeles around the theme “DESIGNING HERE/NOW.” From October 22nd to 24th, 22 speakers will be sharing work around four themes: Collaboration, Making, Business, and the Future. Hear from notable impact designers Matthew Manos of verynice, Tanya Aguiñiga, Gadi Amit of NewDealDesign, John Bielenberg of Future Partners, and Sly Lee of The Hydrous (also an Autodesk Foundation grantee.) Tickets are currently on sale at earlybird pricing, which ends August 31st.

This year’s conference is an exploration of the forces, relationships, technologies and ideas that are driving contemporary design into the future. We’ve worked to make DESIGNING HERE/NOW an experience that offers inspiration, practical know-how and an opportunity to connect over great food and drinks with the insiders of L.A.’s design community.

Click here to learn more and register to attend 2015 Core77 Conference, online at

“Using Social Incubation to Drive Local Innovation”


In Standard Social Innovation Review, Teresa Chahine and Gabriel Seidman wrote an article highlighting inclusive models for social innovation. They point out a number of new models for social startups and community developing emerging out of necessity from the paradoxical situations that local entrepreneurs often face. In Chahine and Seidman’s words:

“We believe that the solutions with the greatest potential for creating lasting change in a community are those that develop within that community. The greatest obstacles to catalyzing these locally led solutions are social, logistical, and financial.”

They go on to provide potential solutions and examples of organizations forging new models. For example, Alfanar which is the very first Arab venture philanthropy firm seeking to fund and train “hidden” social entrepreneurs engaging marginalized communities.

Click here to read the full article on Standard Social Innovation Review

MIT Media Lab Uses Sensors to Research Urban Space


There’s much more that meets the eye when it comes to urban design. Designing a bustling public area takes a lot of consideration. Researchers at MIT feel that there is an important part of planning that is more than often missing from the picture, “the human experience.” Elizabeth Christoforetti an urban and architectural designer at MIT Media Lab is working with sensors to study how people interact with the built environment. Linda Poon of CityLab explains the project as such:

“They’re developing a network of sensors that will track the scale and speed of pedestrians, as well as vehicles, over long periods of time. The sensors, which they are currently testing in downtown Boston, will also track the “sensory experience” by recording the noise level and air quality of that space.”

The project is called “Placelet.” With a $35,000 grant from the Knight Prototype Fund Christoforetti’s team is working to create data visualizations for city planners to utilize. As Brent Toderian, a city-planning consultant and former chief planner for the city of Vancouver, Canada states “Any kind of information you gather from sensors is interesting, but not the entire truth. It has value, but don’t for a minute think that it finishes your work for you.”

Click here to read the full article on CityLab

Call for Artwork for The Global Goals and The United Nations

The Global Goals campaign has an ambitious proposition. To end extreme poverty, fight inequality & injustice and fix climate change in the next 15 years and on September 25, 2015, 193 leaders are committing to these goals. Part of this campaign is reaching out to international artists, designers and photographers to create artwork inspired by one of the 17 Global Goals for sustainable development. Some of the goals include:

  • Innovation and infrastructure – Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation
  • Reduced inequalities – Reduce inequality within and among countries
  • Sustainable cities and communities – Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable
  • Responsible consumption – Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns
  • Partnerships for the goals – Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development

Over 25 pieces of work will be chosen and one artist will receive $1,500! 6 Highly Commended Artists will also receive $500 each and 2 Popular Choice Artists will receive $250 each. Submissions are due by September 24th, 2015.

Click here to read more about the Global Goals Campaign

Hygienic & Local Entrepreneurship in Kenya’s Slums


65% of Nairobi’s population lives without a toilet. Sanergy, a social enterprise focused on hygienic sanitation and community building, is tapping into this unmet need. Launched in 2011, Sanergy’s model works to empower local entrepreneurs, give back to the community, and commit to a zero waste philosophy. Ben Schiller of Co.Exist explains the project as such:

“It designs its own toilets, franchises them out to entrepreneurs (who charge people to use them), then converts the waste into fertilizer that it sells to farmers. Started by MIT graduates, Sanergy takes a business approach, based on the premise that people will pay to use toilets if you make them clean and sturdy enough.”

Co-founder David Auerbach makes the case that people are willing to pay for the use of the toilets if they are clean, in close proximity, and affordable. Funded by a number of social impact investors and family foundations, Sanergy is slated to break even by 2017 and continue to help to address the need of health sanitation in Nairobi and beyond.

Click here to read the full article on Co.Exist.

Remembering CCA Professor Steven Skov Holt


The team at Impact Design Hub is saddened to hear about the passing of Steven Skov Holt on Thursday August 13. He will be outlived by his legacy. As a CCA faculty member, former editor of I.D.magazine, cofounder of the Product Design program at Parsons School of Design, amongst many other things, he has definitely made his mark in the world of design. One of his former students describes a poignant memory of Steven:

“… after listening to Steven speak to us about the possibilities there are in design to make positive change—to take influences from politics, global events, biology, history, and literature, and manifest them into idea and form—I never had second thoughts about my future path and desire to create as a designer.”

Mara Skov Holt, his wife and creative partner, will continue to be an essential part of the CCA Design faculty. We send our deep condolences to Mara and the Skov Holt family.

Image courtesy of Glenn Matsumura

6 Writing and Communication Tips for Social Entrepreneurs


Being a social entrepreneur is no easy task. First, a brilliant idea that integrates social good and a successful business model has to be created. After this, one has to figure out how to communicate this brilliant idea. The team at DesignGood, an online community and design studio that uses creativity and design for social good, has put together a few handy tips to effectively communicate and captivate customers and followers. More

5 Skills You Need to Make Positive Impact

AzuKo_community meeting

“If we can’t make any difference in the world, then what are we doing here?” asks Susan S. Szenasy, the candid and perceptive Editor-in-Chief and Publisher of Metropolis who has become known for such provocative statements. For nearly thirty years, Susan has driven and grown the discourse (and advocacy) on ethics in contemporary architecture and design. Through writing, speaking, and teaching, she has demonstrated that the way in which designers make positive change in the world requires skills beyond those acquired through traditional design training. “Skills that are more human and cultural skills are important… because the questions are much more complex now, and the answers are much more fine-grained and well-documented than ever before.”

Susan learned the importance of social skills during her childhood in the 1950s postwar Hungary when family and community relationships were a source of strength and empowerment. More