BSB Design was established in 1966 in Des Moines, Iowa, as a small architectural firm with a grand mission statement: Every family deserves to live in an architect-designed home. Forty-plus years later, BSB employs over 200 people and has amassed an award-winning portfolio of homes. So what would make a U.S. firm verging on mega status suddenly decide to focus its pro bono attention on solving a housing problem thousands of miles away? According to architect and chairman of the board Doug Sharp, all someone had to do was ask.
It might seem that the Post Carbon Institute casts too wide a net. But after translating German at the Vatican and becoming a Hollywood filmmaker, Julian Darley, the institute’s director, is accustomed both to setting and to reaching lofty goals. Yet the mission of the Post Carbon Institute is rather simple, Darley explains: They want “to get society off of fossil fuels fast.”
If you’ve never heard of “fly-tipping,” then you’ve certainly seen its results. Fly-tipping is the British term for dumping garbage illegally, and it’s the civic challenge that motivated Londoner Deborah Leach to start a research project with the Tidy Britain Group (now ENCAMS) to investigate what it takes to engage citizens in cleaning up trash-laden waterways. “The litter along the Thames shores and flowing beneath its bridges was upsetting thousands of Londoners,” Leach recounts. Beyond their desire for cleaner rivers and canals, she found people eager and willing to help.
Sustainable design isn’t merely a catchphrase for Mexico City–based industrial designer Emiliano Godoy. The density and environmental tensions of the megalopolis he calls home have both challenged and inspired him to pursue responsible design decisions with his firm, Godoylab, and eco-friendly production practices with Pirwi, the furniture company he launched with Alejandro Castro in 2007.
"In 2003, Denise Korn marched into the Boston public school system with one goal in mind: to demystify the process of design. She had already learned, as copresident of the Creative Economy Council in New England, that changing the curriculum would not be easy. Instead of coming at it from the inside out, she would do it from the outside in: "I asked them to give me their brightest, most hungry students, and I'd pair them with the most amazing designers in Boston," she explains. With that, Youth Design Boston, a seven-week summer internship program, was born.
Paul Petrunia founded the website Archinect in 1997, using news, forums, and original features to connect the architecture world online. With 30,000 registered members and 1.4 million unique visitors per month, Archinect has become a required stop for anyone interested in architecture today.
In the summer of 2001, Element Skateboards founder Johnny Schillereff stumbled on a new addition to a YMCA skate camp in Northern California: a nature survival-skills program. Over the course of one week on remote Sequoia Lake, instructors Todd Larson and Mike Kershnar brought confidence-building survival strategies to the urban attitudes of the kids.