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Design Corps founder Bryan Bell to speak about public interest design March 5 at ISU

February 23, 2015

Design Corps founder Bryan Bell
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AMES, Iowa — Design Corps and Public Interest Design Institute founder Bryan Bell will speak about "Public Interest Design" Thursday, March 5, at Iowa State University.

Bell's presentation will begin at 5:30 p.m. in 2245 Coover Hall. Part of the spring 2015 Architecture Advisory Council Lecture Series sponsored by the ISU Department of Architecture, the talk is free and open to the public.

Public interest design—a rapidly growing practice that encompasses work often called community design, social design, humanitarian design and pro bono design—is becoming an important means to serve those who traditionally have not had access to the benefits of design, Bell said.

"Specific projects have shown that design can address the most critical social, economic and environmental issues faced in the world today. As the field develops, we must learn what works and what fails to meet a level of ethical and professional standards that the public deserves," he said.

In his lecture, Bell will offer examples of successful projects and best practices and propose "a systemic way forward that can maximize the public value of design."

Bell also will speak and facilitate sessions at the Design Corps Public Interest Design Institute March 6-7 at ISU Design on Main, 203 Main St., Ames.

During the institute, eight leading public interest design practitioners—including three ISU College of Design faculty members—will share case studies and discuss ways design can meet critical needs in communities. The curriculum is based on the Social, Economic and Environmental Design (SEED) Evaluator, a common standard for designers, project developers, community leaders and others to guide, measure, evaluate and certify the social, economic and environmental impact of design projects.

Bell—who holds a bachelor of arts in architectural history from Harvard University and a master of architecture from Yale University—has an extensive background in public design. He founded Design Corps in 1991 to create positive change in traditionally underserved communities by using design, advocacy and education to help them shape their environment and address their social, economic and environmental challenges.

In 2005 he co-founded the SEED Network to connect members of the public with designers who believe that all people can shape their world for the better through design. For the past decade, Bell has supervised the Structures for Inclusion lecture series, which presents best practices in community-based design.

With a team of faculty members from the University of Illinois at Chicago, Portland State University and Mississippi State University, Bell developed the Design Corps Public Interest Design Institute following research supported by a 2011 AIA Latrobe Prize grant from the American Institute of Architects.

Bell has taught and lectured at numerous universities, including the Rural Studio with Samuel Mockbee at Auburn University. He received a 2007 AIA National Honor Award in collaborative practice and was a Harvard Loeb Fellow in 2010-2011. His work has been exhibited at the Venice Biennale and the National Design Triennial Exhibition at the Cooper-Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum.

The Public Interest Design Institute (9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday, March 6-7) is co-sponsored by Design Corps, SEED Network, ISU College of Design, ISU Community Design Lab, Iowa Women in Architecture and the American Institute of Architects Iowa Chapter. Registration is open through the start of the institute on March 6. Contact Nadia Anderson, ISU assistant professor of architecture and one of the institute presenters, for more information.

Nadia Anderson, Architecture, (515) 294-0339,
Jaden Urbi, Design Communications,
Heather Sauer, Design Communications, (515) 294-9289,