Editor’s Note For Goodness’ Sake On making great things happen by Larry Paul Fuller
here is good architecture. And then there is good architecture … as in architecture for the public good. This year’s statewide design award winners — 13 projects from Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, and Austin — are a case in point. I was struck, during the awards jury process, by how intent the jurors were on recognizing certain entries, not only for their merit in terms of design (even design merit as broadly defined), but also for their capacity to fulfill client aspirations for the public good. Angie Brooks, Eddie Jones, James Timberlake — all three jurors were passionately committed to the idea that great things can happen in a collaboration between discerning architects and socially responsible clients within the pubic realm. “Great things” includes the concept of “human hope” — a thread that runs through several of the winning projects. The theme could be no clearer than in the very name of the Haven for Hope Homeless Transformational Center in San Antonio (page 78). The Cathedral of Hope Interfaith Peace Chapel in Dallas (page 38) — although commissioned by an institutional rather than public client — also uses its name to define “hope” as an aspiration. And in purpose if not in name, the Houston Food Bank (page 62) stands as what writer Ardis Clinton, AIA, terms “a beacon of hope, illuminating the community and working to improve quality of life for all those in need.” In Dallas, the Brownwood Park Pavilions (page 30) and the Cotillion Park Pavilion (page
34) serve the function of modest neighborhood picnic shelters while rising, in form, to the level of public art. And in Austin, the I-35 Makeover (page 50) reclaims residual public space while symbolically stitching together the prosperous and gleaming CBD west of the freeway and the modest, historically minority neighborhoods to the east. Human hope, accessible art, social justice. These themes that infuse our projects for the public good bring to mind the related term “public-interest design” — which emerges from the premise that design can be a way of improving the world. Sometimes it involves design initiatives funded by socially responsible agencies, by enlightened foundations and corporations, or by private individuals. Sometimes it involves pro bono or “low bono” commitments by design professionals. And, always, it involves the goal of making people’s lives better. For inspiration, check out PublicInterestDesign.org, whose editor, John Cary, is an articulate spokesman for this rapidly growing field. And watch future editions of this magazine for accounts of how architects are contributing to the public good — how they’re actively making good design accessible to more than a tiny privileged segment of the population. This kind of change comes slowly. But, clearly, it’s something to hope for.
The award-winning Haven for Hope Homeless Transformational Center in San Antonio, by Overland Partners, brings together in one campus the necessary individual and family services to address the root causes of homelessness.
Texas Architect 7
Texas Architect Sept/Oct 2012: Design Awards