On the surface this one seems like a no brainer.
When you give a building or a community project an award or some sort of public recognition, invite not only the designer to the stage but also the community partners, the funders, the developer, the builder and maybe even…….the user. Let them talk, thank people and maybe even show off a little.
In the midst of a snowstorm, not long after I arrived in the Windy City this past winter, I had the great pleasure of attending the Driehaus Foundation’s Neighborhood Development Awards. As we settled in for a series of awards given to the best projects the City has to offer, I quickly found myself totally impressed with the ‘smart’ design of the evening. We are in the midst of a very unique time in which young designers, graduating students and even old hands, really want to create architecture that is beneficial to the places, people and communities where they live. Despite the fantastic work of people like Bryan Bell and his excellent yearly conference, Structures For Inclusion, an honest conversation about what it takes to do this type of work remains somewhat illusive but not at the Neighborhood Development Awards. Likewise, it is so important that communities ‘grow’ and celebrate good design advocates who aren’t architects. When you consider that architects’ PAC contributes less to campaigns than the sheet metal workers’ union, it is important to remind ourselves that although it is imperative that we grow architect-leaders, we need not only need friends in high places but probably just more friends in general.
The banker behind a portion of the seventeen different funding sources, a school principal, the lawyer who wrestled with the titling of the land, the non-profit leader who had a vision, the developer who helped figure out how it could be financially viable………and the architect who helped give form to some of these pieces.
Yep, it was pretty great. Fantastic job Driehaus. For the good of our profession, for the bettering of this type of work and for the strength of the communities in which we live, I hope other places copy what you’ve done.