The University of New Mexico School of Architecture and Planning hosts a Public Interest Design Institute Friday-Saturday, Sept. 16-17 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Pearl Hall, located on the UNM campus. Register by Aug. 17 to receive a $100 discount.

The two-day session explores architecture and design in the public's interest. Experts from around the country will present case studies that demonstrate new ways that design is addressing the most crucial social, economic and environmental issues faced by cities and communities.

UNM architecture professor Michaele Pride is coordinating the institute at UNM. She said that public interest design, or community based design, as it is known, has traditionally and historically been provided pro bono or offered through schools. "But it can function in a fee-based structure," she said. The institute will train practitioners the basic principles that support this kind of work.

Learning objectives include finding new clients, learning about new fee sources and structures, understanding public interest design and how is it re-shaping the design professions, pro-actively finding a public interest design project, using a step-by-step process of working with a community as a design partner, leveraging other partners and assets to address project challenges, maximizing a project's positive impact on a community, and measuring social, economic and environmental impact on communities.

Public Interest Design (PID) is a fast growing area of the design professions. While the relationship between the environment and design has become widely recognized, the relationship between design and issues such as education, employment and health has yet to be made as clear. Public interest design does exactly that through an evaluation process called SEED, or Social Economic and Environmental Design, similar to "LEED" certification but includes issues in addition to the environment.

The term PID acknowledges the public nature of much of architecture. Like public interest medicine that addresses systemic issues like the spread of disease, PID looks at more than just the individual case. Like public interest law, PID seeks to serve everyone with a need for design, not just those who can afford the traditional fee-for-service approach.

The Institute is supported by the 2011 American Institute of Architects Latrobe Prize. Two recipients of the prize, Bryan Bell of Design Corps and David Perkes of the Gulf Coast Community Design Center, will present their findings. Also presenting is Maurice Cox of the University of Virginia and Sergio Palleroni of Portland State University who will speak on his international work. Barbara Brown Wilson of the University of Texas will speak about public interest design as a social movement similar to civil rights and the green environmental movement.

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