Session 6: Serving Communities

Date: February 7, 2013
Location: District Architecture Center
Time: 12:00 pm – 5:00pm
Led by: Gregoire Holeyman, AIA, LEED AP & Ricardo Rodriguez, Associate AIA, LEED AP BD+C

Session 6 PDF


On Friday, February 7, 2014, the sixth session of the Christopher Kelley Leadership Development Program (CKLDP) was held at the District Architecture Center. Organized by Greg Holeyman, AIA & Ricardo Rodríguez, Associate AIA, LEED AP, the day focused on Serving Communities and emphasized the point that good design should be for everyone.

At the beginning of the afternoon, Steven Spurlock, FAIA, Principal at Wnuk Spurlock Architecture, presented a lecture on the importance of Pro Bono work and giving back to the community. Steven discussed the many benefits of pro bono work, from improving office culture, to getting your name out, to simply advancing the profession. He also stressed the important aspects to consider when taking on this kind of work, from the lessons he has learned throughout his career, including mixing non-profit and for-profit work. Echoing comments made by speakers throughout the day, Pro Bono work should be thought of like any other project in the office, and go through the same framework and processes, including a formal contract with the owner.

As a follow-up to the themes of the first lecture, leaders of local firms presented some of their own projects and discussed how they approach public interest design. While varied in their firm size and structure, Todd Ray, FAIA, Suzane Reatig, FAIA, Stefan Schwarzkopf, AIA, LEED AP, and Steven Spurlock, FAIA all presented significant examples of public interest design, ranging from local residential projects to a small school and housing complex in Haiti. The presenters discussed the significance of doing your research and evaluation on a non-profit organization and establishing ground rules with the client before committing yourself to a project. As an architect, there is a lot of value you can bring to any project, and it is important to not be taken advantage of. The phrase “Pro Bono” means “For Good” and is frequently mistaken to mean “For Free”, and there are many ways to offer your help at reduced rate and donated service.  


Jess Zimbabwe, AIA, AICP, followed the first roundtable with a passionate keynote on how architects can effectively use their abilities to serve in leadership roles within their communities. From her perspective, architects are uniquely suited to help given their skill set in identifying the problems at hand and a methodical approach to solving them. Using her own career as a case study, she discussed the organizations she’s been involved with in cities across the country, and recommended resources to follow up to become part of the movement.


The final event of the afternoon was a panel discussion on community engagement from an alternative perspective, the view of the client. Though repeating some of the points (and praise of architects talents) made by earlier speakers, Lawrence Huff, Andrew Huang, Kristina Castro, Josef Fuentes, RA, LEED AP, and Max Skolnic shared their own insight into successful Pro Bono work.  While encouraging general volunteering (Max claimed that he has probably made hundreds of PB&J sandwiches), skills based volunteering has a much better impact in the community. As the panel saw it, even the smallest Pro Bono project can enable an organization to reduce the amount of time spent on miscellaneous things, and more effectively focus on their core mission.


Public Architecture:

Washington Architectural Foundation:

Institute Guidelines to Assist AIA Members, Firms, and Components in Undertaking Pro Bono Service Activities: