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ISU to host Public Interest Design Institute March 6-7 at Design on Main

January 15, 2015


(image) AMES, Iowa — Iowa State University will host a two-day training session in March for design professionals, students and community leaders to gain a deeper understanding of how design methods can address critical issues within communities.

The Design Corps Public Interest Design Institute will be from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. March 6 and 7 at the ISU College of Design's Design on Main facility, 203 Main St. in downtown Ames.

"Super early-bird" registration—available through Thursday, Jan. 22—is $225 for the general public and $175 for American Institute of Architects (AIA), Iowa Women in Architecture (iaWia) and ISU faculty and staff members. Early-bird registration ($250/$200) ends Feb. 5, with regular registration ($275/$225) available Feb. 6 until the start of the event. Student registration is $150. Register online

Nadia Anderson, ISU assistant professor of architecture and urban design, extension specialist and co-director of the university's Community Design Lab, is coordinating the event with Design Corps.

"Design Corps is one of the leading organizations in the US that brings people together around public interest design by organizing meetings, conventions and training programs to help communities address social, economic and environmental challenges," Anderson said.

Public interest design is the design of products, environments and systems in the public's interest, paying special attention to underserved communities and populations, she said. Public interest design concepts are evident in projects such as the Rural Studio at Auburn University and Rwanda's Butaro Hospital by MASS Design Group.

"The mission of public interest design is to create a positive change by engaging in design with nonprofits and community organizations," Anderson said.

At the institute in March, leaders in the field will present and discuss real examples using the Harvard Case Study Method. A list of speakers will be released soon.

Participants also will be given hands-on training in practice management and the business of public interest design projects, Anderson said. The Social Economic Environmental Design (SEED) Evaluator, a set of standards that outline the process and principles of this growing approach to design, will be used throughout the session.

"Training in the SEED Evaluator is a good tool for starting a public interest design project and following through and fully understanding the impacts of that project," Anderson said.

Participants must complete both days of the training and are eligible to receive AIA continuing education credits along with certification in the SEED process. SEED has been chosen by the U.S. Green Building Council as a social equity pilot credit for LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification. 

Limited scholarships are available for students to offset their registration fees. If interested, email a 300-word statement about "What is the future of design?" to Anderson at by 5 p.m. Friday, Jan. 23.

The Design Corps Public Interest Design Institute is co-sponsored by Design Corps, ISU College of Design, ISU Community Design Lab, iaWia and AIA Iowa.

Nadia Anderson, Architecture, (515) 294-0339,
Jaden Urbi, Design Communications,