In the Public Interest: How One Designer Used an AIA Travel Scholarship to Inspire Change
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2018 News
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Garret Nelli
Associate AIA
“I wanted to see how architects around the world are becoming more civically and culturally engaged to create a greater impact outside of just building buildings.”
In the Public Interest: How One Designer Used an AIA Travel Scholarship to Inspire Change
 
Inner-City Arts, Los Angeles, California - Michael Maltzan Architecture
 
In the spring of 2017, Garrett Nelli was awarded AIA Seattle’s 2017 Emerging Professionals Travel Scholarship for his research proposal, Public Interest: Redefining the Architect’s Role in and Responsibility to Society. Garrett was interested in examining how architectural intervention in the form of public interest design can promote positive change in society and the architectural profession.
Public interest design is an emerging professional sector, with a purpose to reposition the architectural profession to address the social, political, and environmental issues of the 21st century through community-engaged design. Garrett used this travel scholarship to explore ways that architects have made themselves accountable to communities, particularly those who are in need. He traveled the world to catalog six architectural interventions that have transformed communities by means of innovative public interest design and construction:
 
photo by Trevor Dykstra
 
Upon his return, Garrett collaborated with AIA Seattle to create an exhibit that showcases the six projects that he visited, highlighting their architecture as well as how they have impacted their surrounding communities. In the Public Interest: Redefining the Architect’s Role and Responsibility offers unique perspectives on the value public interest design, highlighting the power of a community engaged design process. In addition to sharing his research with the design community, the exhibit also provides a forum for individuals to connect with others to create positive change. Visitors can take cards with a call for volunteers or services and place them on a pegboard for others to respond to.
Through his research and exhibit, Garrett hopes to inspire individuals to join those emerging practices, professionals, and citizens who wish to work for the betterment of our communities in Seattle and around the world.
Garrett’s exhibit is currently on display through May 26, 2018 at Seattle’s Center for Architecture and Design.