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Blazing Trails

  • Image courtesy of Residential Architect

In Blazing Trails: A dedication to social justice propels today's young professionals Cheryl Weber takes a look at  the current practice of public interest design.

Cheryl writes, “Public interest design—which focuses on the needs of the community rather than the individual—is not new, but the next generation of designers sees it as integral to practice. Young people have always been attracted to humanitarian causes; coming of age in a time of climate change and economic unrest, however, has made today’s graduates view socially conscious design less from an idealistic perspective than as the third leg of sustainability—environmental, economic, social.

Perkins+Will principal Meg Brown, director of human resources, is seeing this trend. “Within the first two sentences of their cover letters, nine out of 10 young job applicants mention the firm’s commitment to social responsibility, she says. ‘It’s a real hook for us. They’ve been to our website; they’re doing their research, and that’s what’s connecting with them.’”

Cheryl interviewed the leaders of nonprofits (including the Collaborative) and private firms, capturing a snapshot of public interest design as it makes the transition for movement to practice. Her interviews yield some intriguing  examples of public interest design's growing role despite—or because of—a punishing political and financial environment.

A recommended read!


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