So you want to change the world?

“Many of us enter the architecture profession believing that good design can shape a better world, only to crash into the harsh and often all-too-elite reality of traditional fee-for-service. Yet in our post-9/11, post-Katrina, post-Occupy world, interest in public interest design continues to rise. How to take on public interest or community based projects AND make a living as an architect? How can this improve — or impair — your bottom line? What new practice models and projects are emerging? How to channel all this good will into effectiveness? What creates “success” in public interest projects? What makes these projects actually make a long term difference? How could architects be more effective?”

More than 20 years ago, Studio G’s Managing Principal Gail Sullivan started an architecture firm to address these very questions. She sought to integrate an agenda for social change – social justice, feminism, environmentalism, an end to race and class oppression – with her love for architecture and place-making, to provide high quality design to those who need it most. Studio G continues to be mission-driven rather than solely profit- or award-driven, and we are more collaborative than hierarchical – valuing all voices equally, with staff, clients and community.

Gail Sulivan speaking at ABX 2014.  Photo credit: June Lee

Gail Sulivan speaking at ABX 2014.
Photo credit: June Lee

During last week’s ABX session entitled “So you want to change the world?” Gail spoke about Studio G’s social impact work, citing projects such as the Green Roof at Boston Latin School, Harvard Square Youth Homeless Shelter, and E+ Housing. Other panel members including Gretchen Schneider, Executive Director of Community Design Resource Center of Boston; Anne Marie Lubenau, Director, Rudy Bruner Award for Urban Excellence; Mark Klopfer, Partner/Owner, Klopfer Martin Design Group; and Sara Schonour, Senior Associate, CannonDesign, shared their work, philosophies, processes, challenges, and visions for the future. It was a fantastic and inspiring session. Many thanks to those who attended, and especially the ABX team & Gretchen Schneider for organizing!

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