Project: How Do You Seed Innovation Within An Architecture Firm? Within A Community?

Posted on January 29th, 2010 at 6:27 pm by in Our Work

Project: How Do You Seed Innovation Within An Architecture Firm? Within A Community?

Project: Community Innovation Incubator
Location: Chicago, IL
Project Director: Alex Gilliam
Year: Current

How Do You Seed Community Innovation? Within An Architecture Firm? Within The Profession?

In December, Landon Bone Baker Architects (LBBA) hired Public Workshop to help them answer these challenging questions as it relates to their small but incredibly productive practice in Chicago, IL. Well known and highly regarded for their affordable housing, the firm’s principals wondered:

By collaborating in different ways with their trusted community partners to identify and tackle new projects, opportunities or issues could they have a greater positive impact on the neighborhoods in which they work than they are typically able to affect through their housing alone?

Could this work strengthen the mission and effectiveness of Landon Bone Baker’s partnering organizations?

Will it be necessary to develop a new organization or organizational relationships to facilitate these new projects? What might this look like or how might it function? Who would participate and how would this fit into the larger landscape of Chicago? Nationwide? Where would funding come from….are there means for funding these projects other than grants?

How can we provide meaningful opportunities for more more designers, architects and young people to gain the skills, and experience necessary to work collaboratively with community partners and experts to make stronger, healthier neighborhoods?

While Public Workshop has been (and will continue) using its extensive experience, knowledge and skill to help refine and answer these questions, it quickly became apparent to Public Workshop that LBBA already does many of the things raised in the aforementioned questions on a daily basis. Folks, you can’t possibly imagine the dedication of the staff at LBBA to the communities in which they work. The trust and respect that the firm is afforded, as well as the volume of work they receive, is due to this incredible commitment. Nevertheless, their Midwestern modesty has gotten the better of them and the firm does not do a good job of describing, celebrating or seeding this type of community entrepreneurship/innovation within the office.

So now, in addition to exploring the creation of an organization that imaginatively addresses the particular needs of Chicago’s communities, Public Workshop is working closely with the staff at Landon Bone Baker to design an inner-office innovation and entrepreneurship incubator…….an added-value incubator that seeds innovative research and community work by its employees.

None of this is useful if it the work isn’t evaluated or shared effectively so Public Workshop will also be designing effective evaluative and sustainable branding/marketing systems that suits the personality, strengths and work demands of the office.

Quite frankly, Public Workshop couldn’t be more excited to working with the staff at Landon Bone Baker Architects on such a series of ambitious and bold projects. By venturing to even ask these questions, LBBA is making an incredible commitment to the people and neighborhoods of Chicago, while courageously re-imagining the profession of architecture. Bravo.

We can’t wait to share some of the results of our collaboration with you over the next year.

Are you interested in Public Workshop helping your firm re-imagine how it works as an office, in a community or with its partners for greater impact? Want to develop an inner office research and innovation program that matches the particular character and needs of your firm, its clients and the places where you work?

Public Workshop is excited to help.

Please contact us for more information about the services we provide:

Alex Gilliam, Director