Public Architecture


Public Architecture was a key founder in the contemporary social impact design movement. They offered a venue where architects and designers can work for the public good.Public Architecture provided a network and knowledge necessary to use in the design of the built environment as a tool for social gain. Through thier flagship program, the 1% they connected nonprofits with pro bono design services. They were a knowledge broker, matchmaker and advocate for socially meaningful building design.Public Architecture framed social and environmental problems in the built environment and facilitated solutions for circumstances where both clients and financing must be imagined in new ways. They leaded the pro bono design movement by asking design firms to formalize their commitment to give back professionally.

Completed Projects

DLS Front 1 SIGN

Day Labor Station


National Day Labor Organizing Network


Day Labor Station Design Concept

Project Description

The Day Labor Station was a prototypical steel building kit structure, which was used to house day laborers as they waited for employers to provide them with temporary work including working some of the construction equipment used to build this structure. The structure utilizes green building materials and strategies and will exist primarily off-grid. The building design was based on a series of interviews with day laborers conducted by Public Architecture, and was meant to respond to the needs and desires of the day laborers as clients. The commercial metal building structure was designed to be flexible enough to serve various uses, including as an employment center, office, classroom, and became a prototype for similar locations that is powered by solar.

Firehouse clinic

Firehouse Clinic


Alameda County, California


Blue Shield; California HealthCare Foundation

Project Description

Firehouse Clinics developed a more accessible model of health care services by co-locating medical clinics constructed from modular buildings on the grounds of existing fire station sites, thus leveraging existing assets to keep the costs low in well-known locations, underutilized space, and the public’s trust. Public Architecture developed guidelines to help identify a focus set of high-priority fire station sites and matched pro bono services to design a clinic prototype.


Accessory Dwelling Unit


Santa Cruz, California


City of Santa Cruz

Project Description

Public Architecture’s ADU developed a more formal design campaign after learning about low cost, high-performance 500 sq ft detached single-story storage container prototypes. This design was a welcome alternative to the portable office trailers that were utilized previously. The City of Santa Cruz wanted to produce a Garage Conversion Manual for the city’s ADU program. The manual featured eight prototypes, which were developed by Public Architecture, as well as assistance to understand technical issues, layout, and other topics relevant to the planning and design of a garage conversion project.

17th x Castro

17th and Castro Plaza


San Francisco, California


City of San Francisco

Project Description

The design for the temporary installation of the 17th and Castro Plaza used simple and often salvaged – materials and methods in order to test, adjust, and evaluate the project, while gathering metrics and stakeholder interviews to inform the future permanent plaza design.

TAF 18 Office

TAF Community Learning Space


Seattle, Washington


Technology Access Foundation

Project Description

Public Architecture assisted The Miller Hull Partnership in identifying the ways in which material reuse could be woven into TAF’s new industrial steel building. The results are visible everywhere, from decommissioned Seattle road signs as exterior cladding to an entry bridge made of wood beams salvaged from locally deconstructed barndo houses. The reclaimed materials contributed to the beauty, character, and social and environmental sustainability of the project and it also supports TAF’s science education programs, with the modular school itself serving as a teaching tool.

Future Projects

Do you have an amazing idea that Public Architecture could help with? Below are two examples of projects we are very interested in exploring but we are open to any possibilities that are worthwhile. Please contact us today to discuss your project.

school choice modular classrooms

School Choice Facilities


United States

Project Description

School choice facilities allow public education money to fund students to the schools or services that best fit their needs —whether that’s to a public school, private school, charter school, home school or any other learning environment families choose. In order to keep up with this growing demand, schools need to be constructed with either traditional or alternative modular classrooms that offer numerous benefits including lower cost and speed.

Employment Program Modular Office Facilities

Employment Program Facilities


United States

Project Description

Employment program facilities can be constructed with modular offices to provide the much needed space to create valuable programs that aids in individuals finding employers willing to provide them with jobs that are mutually beneficial. Examples of such employment programs are disabled job seekers, school to work transition or vocational rehabilitation.



John Alexander Chief Building Architect

John Alexander

Chief Building Architect @ Green Building Elements

Rhode Island School of Design


Completed projects by Public Architecture leveraged the financial support of of the below foundations, firms, companies, and visionary individuals (just like you) to use the design of the built environment as a tool for social gain.

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Cummings Foundation 1
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brick logo
UF black logo
Gerbode Foundation Logo
rhd 1
Reis Foundation Logo
AnnieECaseylogox2 1 1
AIA Logo
Skyline Design
shaw contract group high res
orrick logo
Novedge 1
nea lockup A
Milliken Logo New 1
Long and Levit llp logo 1
knight logo 3000
Anna Kauffman
humanscale logo
Holcim LOGO MAS 3C
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haworth logo 1
Barbara Franzoia

Contact Us About a Public Architecture Project