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Preview: Architizer Design Clinic

"People know that they need experts in an emergency: doctors for surgery, plumbers for floods, therapists for nervous breakdowns," says Marc Kushner, co-founder of the online community for architects, Architizer.com. But they might not see the spatial challenges within their own home as the same kind of emergency—one which can cause all sorts of real-life health risks, from headaches to carpal tunnel syndrome to depression. "Manipulating space is a complicated task that architects are trained for," says Kushner. "The emergency happens when architects are not consulted." Until the equivalent of universal health care comes to the architecture world, most people still need that expert opinion to help them with all important decisions when it comes to their home. And to make those experts even more accessible, Architizer is launching the Architizer Design Clinic, opening for three days only at Dwell on Design.

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This architectural triage unit will be staffed by a team of experts ready to tackle potential clients' biggest design dilemmas—for free. It's a win-win situation for all involved. Visitors get answers to their burning design/build questions, and architects get a high-profile forum where they can flex their design muscles. "The practicality of the Design Clinic suits our mission to a tee: revolutionizing the way architects communicate their work," says Kushner of Architzer's rapidly-growing, open-source network of architects and their projects. "The old model is strictly word-of-mouth, but a platform like Architizer shows good design directly to clients. They can browse by category, region, scale, material, or any other filter to find architectural projects that suit their taste. The Clinic reinforces that credo—it's another tool that demystifies the architecture profession and shows those potential clients how useful architects can be."

The Design Clinic is calling for participation from two crucial parties: architects (doctors) and clients (patients). Architects can put themselves in the running to be doctors-for-the-day by listing their projects on Architizer (if they haven't already) and tagging them with the hashtag #designclinic2010 to enter. Kushner is looking for a well-rounded group of designers that can satisfy the varying demands of the patients. Potential clients who would like to play patient simply need to sign up on the Dwell on Design site for a free half-hour consultation appointment with some of L.A.'s top architects. Patients can come prepared with blueprints or show up with a blank slate, says Kushner. "The most important thing is that they come with an open mind about how the architect can solve their problem."

Architizer promises no crowded waiting rooms or hefty insurance premiums, just straight talk about design and smart, honest solutions (although we're still holding out for lab coats and gurneys to make the experience authentic). There's also the potential for this fun event to morph into some serious business, as Kushner reminds us. We're betting that more than a few of these pretend doctor-patient pairings will blossom into real-life architect-client relationships. The Architizer Design Clinic will be open at Dwell on Design, June 25-27 in Los Angeles. Register now at dwellondesign.com

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