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Public Architecture

Public Architecture is a San Francisco, California based architectural non-profit whose mission is to formalize and act as a connector for pro bono services within the professions of architecture, interior design and landscape architecture.

Public Architecture was founded by John Peterson and grew out of his private practice, John Peterson Architects. Peterson began devoting more and more of his firm’s time to pro bono projects and conceived of the possibility of a national or global network of firms which perform a similar connecting function.

Public Architecture’s flagship program is called The One Percent. It began with an audacious but scalable goal: ask architecture firms to formally pledge at least 1% of their billable time to pro bono service. By asking for this commitment, Public Architecture aspires to not only provide needy social projects with design services and change the way firms do the other 99% of their work. To ensure these firms can find appropriate pro-bono projects to work on, Public Architecture acts as a match-maker, connecting architecture firms that wish to donate their time with non-profits in need of design services. 

Peterson is the current curator of the Loeb Fellowship. His work has appeared in several books and publications, including The Resilience Dividend: Being Strong in a World Where Things Go Wrong, The New York Times, Architectural Record, Architect, Metropolis, and the Chronicle of Philanthropy. He has contributed to books such as Expanding Design, Urban Interventions, and The Power of Pro Bono.

We spoke with John Peterson, along with Emily Pilloton of Project H Design, on Social Design Insights. Listen to the episodes below.

10 | Emily Pilloton and John Peterson Argue for Design as the Great Equalizer, Part 1
11 | Emily Pilloton and John Peterson Argue for Design as the Great Equalizer, Part 2


Social Design Insights would like to thank all those who make our weekly show possible: Baruch Zeichner, our Producer and Sound Engineer, Donna Read, for producing our video content, and Leah Freidenrich, Director of the Curry Stone Foundation. Our theme music for 2017 is "Sorry" by Comfort Fit. The break music is "Birimbau" by Dom Um Romao from his album "Bossa Jazz: The Birth of Hard Bossa Samba Jazz & the Evolution of Brazilian Fusion 1962-73."