Skip to content

In the Public Interest: Redefining the Architect’s Role and Responsibility


Image courtesy Garrett Nelli AIA.

Public interest design is re-positioning the architectural profession to address the social, political, and environmental issues of the 21st century through community-engaged design. This shift in practice advances the notion that architecture is not only a built product, but a collective process that instills the tools, awareness, and imagination for individuals to improve their lives.

In the Public Interest: Redefining the Architect’s Role and Responsibility exhibition showcases six innovative architectural practices reimagining the architect’s contribution toward the public good. The selected projects offer unique perspectives on the value of a community-engaged design process and the expanding nature of practice while presenting new methods for the profession to design with Boston’s communities.

Expressed primarily as photo journalism, the exhibition is based on the 2017 winning proposal of AIA Seattle's Emerging Professionals Travel Scholarship, "Public Interest: Redefining the Architect's Role in and Responsibility to Society" by Garrett Nelli AIA. In 2017, Garrett traveled to Los Angeles, New Orleans, Alabama, Haiti, Spain, and Italy to catalog how design can be a catalyst for positive societal change.

Additional media and programming will explore the outcomes of traveling scholarships such as AIA Seattle's Emerging Professionals Travel Scholarship and The Rotch Travelling Scholarship, administered by the Rotch Trustees and the Boston Society of Architects/AIA. What can be uniquely discovered by designers stimulated by travel at the outset of their careers? Why is this discovery important?

The exhibition also features an infographic representing the results of a survey asking Boston-area residents to identify their own community's pressing need for public interest design, and a photographic roundup of public interest design projects in Boston, or elsewhere, if by Boston architects.

Don't miss the opening reception for In the Public Interest at 6:00 pm on Thursday, February 21, 2019. This special event is an opportunity to explore the exhibition while enjoying complimentary drinks and hors d'oeuvres.