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In 2005, the Social Economic Environmental Design (SEED) Network was founded at a conference organized by the Harvard Loeb Fellowship. The SEED Network established a professional community specifically with a public interest mission and a common set of principles to guide ethical community engagement. In a 2011 poll of members of the American Institute of Architects funded by the FAIA Latrobe Prize, 77% agreed that this mission were appropriate for Public Interest Design:
Every person should be able to live in a socially, economically and environmentally healthy community.
To convert this mission and principles into design-based action, a new tool was developed, the SEED Evaluator. The SEED Evaluator is a communication tool that allows designers and communities to define design projects that address critical issues. The Evaluator provides for significant involvement of the community, resulting in greater transparency and accountability, and allows tracking a project through its entirety. There are four broad benefits of using the SEED Evaluator:
Process: Provides a standard process for designers and communities to assess challenges, define priorities, set goals, and create design projects to address critical social, economic, and environmental issues.
- The Evaluator functions as an on-line communication platform that can include multiple stakeholders and diverse community members in the process. Broad and diverse participation in a project is a requirement of the SEED Evaluator for a project to be determined as in the public’s interest.
- Transparency: Progress towards success can be tracked on-line and in real time. The results of the project are made publicly visible in achieving these goals or not.
- Accountability: Completion of the SEED Evaluator can lead to SEED Certification, which confirms, through a third-party review, the success of a design project in achieving the goals set by the community. SEED Certification has established a trustworthy method for the public, community organizers, civic leaders, designers, and funders to confirm the public interest aspects of design projects.
This October 8, 2012 presentation is a part of the ongoing Housing Knowledge Community research webinar series. View the complete series archive.
- Understand public interest design and how is it re-shaping the design professions.
- Learn about the step-by-step process of working with a community as a design partner.
- Discuss examples of project that maximize the positive impact on a community.
- Measure social, economic, and environmental impact on communities.
Level: Intermediate. Good for: Public Interest Design is a quickly growing sector of the practice of Architecture. SEED provides Public Interest Design with a professional standard of ethical practice through a clear mission and step-by-step process.
Bryan Bell, SEED, worked with Samuel Mockbee in 1985 on three houses in rural Mississippi which won a Progressive Architecture First Award. In 1991 he founded Design Corps and subsequently added a fellowship program with the AmeriCorps. His effort to share ideas with the newest generation of architects has led to a series of conferences, Structures of Inclusion, hosted at universities. Selected presentations from these events have been presented in two publications: Good Deeds Good Design, (Princeton Architectural Press, 2003) and Expanding Architecture: Design as Activism (Metropolis Books, 2008). In 2010 he became a Harvard Loeb Fellow where his work includes a triple bottom line evaluation using the Social/Economic/Environmental Design (SEED). His current work includes “Public Interest Design,” funded through the 2011 Latrobe Prize awarded by the American Institute of Architects.
Thomas Burns, Assoc. AIA, will moderate.
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