Sign In, Renew, Sign Up

Search AIA

Search AIA Go

Architect's Knowledge ResourceDocuments

Page Tools

Reed Insight and Community



SPP Journal: Pro Bono Work| Issue number 49 | Spring 2010

Letter from the Chair

If you ever needed a nudge into a pro-bono project, read on. And if you haven’t yet considered volunteering your time to a good cause, the articles in this Journal may inspire, intrigue, and launch your efforts in rewarding new directions.

The question of who benefits from pro-bono work is tackled head-on in Hansy Barraza’s article, and the theme runs throughout this issue. Surely, the community benefits when architects donate their services. And the profession rises a notch in the public’s esteem when even one individual brings his or her creativity, heart and soul to the common good.

Yet, lofty goals aside, pro bono work fundamentally serves the architect who does it. There are few activities that provide the same degree of networking, exposure, new skills and expertise, growth opportunities for staff, as pro bono work. It’s a chance to align our values with our talents. Etty Padmodipoetro finds that a shoestring budget provides an opportunity to become nimble and learn to sharpshoot from the hip.

And if you’re going to venture out into doing this work, the cautionary tales and pitfalls presented by David Gamble and Robert Vagnieres will set some ground rules. The lessons learned in pro bono work apply directly to paying jobs, and often lead to them.

Images from Haiti show us daily that the world runs on volunteer energy. Architecture for Humanity requests Design Services through their website:

Laura Montllor’s Home Free Home offers another way to get involved via this link:

This is a dynamic collection of thought-provoking articles, proof that the architectural profession has a real voice in creating livable communities. Thanks to all who volunteer, and to all who contributed to this issue of the SPP Journal!

For the SPP Advisory Group,
Deborah Pierce, AIA, 2009 Chair


Ten Tips for Pro-Bono work in Community Settings
By David Gamble, AIA, AICP, LEED AP

Working in a pro-bono capacity within community settings can be fraught with potential pitfalls. In particular, planning within neighborhoods often takes place in the midst of multiple parties with competing agendas. Therefore, community designers invariably work to negotiate conflict. Follow these tips to help structure a more inclusive, engaged and successful process. Read More

You Do It Because You Love It
By Hansy Better Barraza, AIA, LEED AP

One might ask who benefits from all the pro-bono work that was done by the design firms. For one, the design firms benefit from the research that was done and ultimately takes this knowledge and project example to the next future client. Second, the benefit goes to the larger general public where the “what is that” is a slight pause in their daily routine that brings a design awareness closer to their neighborhood. Read More

Throwing Caution to Pro Bono
By Robert C. Vagnieres Jr. AIA, NCARB

Perhaps my story will cause architects to stop, think, and use caution, next time they entertain the idea of “pro bono.” Read More

I Want to Say Yes…But !!
By Laura Montllor, AIA

Engaging in work for free can be a big trap for small firms. Unlike large firms, the burden of work on a small office can be disproportional. With colleagues at my Long Island AIA chapter SPP roundtable, we formed a new organization, a non-profit group of volunteer architects called HomeFreeHome. Our mission is to provide free and affordable designs for home accessibility to people with disabilities. Read More

To Pro Bono or Not to Pro Bono
By Robert Cozzarelli, AIA

As our profession endures the worst economy since the Great Depression, architects are asked to go the extra mile and provide pro bono services. The real question is why any architect would consider providing pro bono services, and receive no financial compensation, during these turbulent economical times. The answer is simple; to network and to increase profitability. Read More

A Pro Bono Primer
By Ellen Hunt, AIA

Pro-bono or professional volunteer work for non-profit businesses can be rewarding personally and professionally, improve the quality of life in your community and provide opportunities that may be outside the regular business of your firm. Read More

AIA Design Voice
By Eva Schone, AIA

I want community service to be a significant and consistent part of my career. After attending several community meetings and workshops related to affordable housing and community building, the time seemed right to approach the local AIA chapter together with my boss and a couple of like-minded architects to propose a “Community Action Group” – a group of architects and designers whose goal it would be to give back to the community - with an initial focus on affordable housing. AIA Design Voice was born and initiated in Austin in January 2009. Read More

Case Study: The Urbano Project
By Etty Padmodipoetro

The party was a big success; everyone was in a festive mood. It was the middle of December and everyone was in the spirit of the holiday season. Art works of the teens and their artist-instructors were on full display. It felt like a party in a loft in Soho, but we were actually at the Brewery in Jamaica Plain, a small neighborhood of Boston. It was the first open house for the Urbano Project, an event that seemed unthinkable not too long ago. Read More

Call for Submissions to SPP Journal

Choosing (or Leaving) a Partner: Forming a partnership is the first step many of us take when going out on our own. How did you choose your partner? What were the challenges in learning to work together? How do you maximize each of your strengths? If you chose to be a sole practitioner, what factors contributed to this decision? If you were a member of a now-dissolved partnership, what events led to the dissolution, and what did you learn from the process? The AIA is seeking articles. Read More


Footer Navigation

Copyright & Privacy

  • © The American Institute of Architects
  • Privacy