Across the country, architects and civic leaders are joining forces to take climate action in their communities. What’s happening near you? Explore our interactive story map for highlights of these impressive sustainable, equitable, and resilient projects.
BOXVILLE: Creating a Just World
Boxville is Chicago’s first street food market and container mall, serving Bronzeville residents and visitors with unique products, services, and food. Boxville offers community entrepreneurs affordable spaces for building enterprises & creating jobs in order to revitalize community.
LIKA: The Albizia Project
LIKA is the story of how a notorious invasive tree species is transformed into a space of sanctuary. Hawaiian for Lisa, Lika was named in memory of D.Arch graduate Joseph Valenti's mother. It is the first ever albizia wood structure and was built on the University of Hawaii at Manoa campus. In pioneering the prototype, Valenti has developed a pathway to sourcing timber locally, restoring native ecosystems, and designing for future island resilience.
University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine
The University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine was built using sustainability guidelines based off of AIA's Framework for Design Excellence. Architects incorporated several high-performance features such as energy modeling, bird-safe glass, efficient water taps and filters, and a green roof.Learn more >
A Building Shaped by Light: Austin Central Library
Overlooking Shoal Creek and Lady Bird Lake, the new Austin Central Library is a building shaped by light and designed to respond to the context of its place. The client and project team set aspirational sustainability and design metrics for the project, including two key goals: It would be the most daylit library in the country, and it would serve as a water conservation model for institutional buildings.
A Jewel in Appalachia
After a career in television broadcasting, Carlie Pelfrey returned to her hometown as the director of the Lawrence County Public Library. She came back with a vision for a library that would house hope, not just books. So, together with library designers at OPN Architects, Pelfrey and her board embarked on a transformation of the library into a jewel for its community and for Appalachia.They were committed to a process and a promise for a renovation that would create an epicenter for the county; embrace justice, equity, and care; address challenges head on; highlight access and opportunity; and most importantly celebrate the belief that a modern library can thrive anywhere.
The renovated library, which opened in February 2020, manifests this mission.
Caño Martín Peña: A Blueprint for Better
"Caño Martín Peña: A Blueprint for Better" is a short documentary film that highlights the resiliency efforts in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria slammed the island in 2017 and left more than 3 million American citizens without power.
Dallas Holocaust & Human Rights Museum
How can a building educate and change the world? This is the question posed by the team at Dallas architecture firm, OMNIPLAN. The vision for the museum is to create a deep and authentic experiential journey that grapples with the most difficult and perplexing issues plaguing humanity. By partnering with community leaders and the museum's original founders, a group of dedicated Holocaust survivors, OMNIPLAN set out to bring human rights to the forefront of their practice.
Designed to Last
New York architect Illya Azaroff collaborated with federal agencies and building product manufacturers to design a resilient, sustainable home for Diane Hellriegel, who lost her home during Superstorm Sandy. Azaroff has made plans for the Hurricane Strong house available to architects and builders for free, in hopes that they will be used and modified to build homes capable of withstanding future disasters.
Designing the Coastal City of the Future
Boston architects are creating a groundbreaking plan for resiliency. The local government is calling on architects to help implement one of the most ambitious municipal resiliency plans in the United States: Climate Ready Boston.Learn more >
Destination Crenshaw is an outdoor art and cultural experience that was built in response to the extension of the light rail here at-grade. To compensate for a train that runs above ground, which is likely to make the boulevard less pedestrian-friendly, architect Gabrielle Bullock and her team designed a series of outdoor parks and art installations featuring work by Black artists, creating a green and inspiring refuge amid the concrete. In addition, the project was designed to bolster the community living there, with spaces for local businesses.Learn more >
From Ruins to City
Jay Valgora grew up in the shadow of the Buffalo grain elevators - the largest collection of industrial artifacts in the world. He is working with community leaders to transform these structures into a city within a city - a place of connection, sustainability and creative exploration.
Gretna City Park
Located on the back slope of the Mississippi River, the park was quickly inundated during storms, and surrounding homes suffered one of the highest repetitive-damage rates in the country. Together with local architects, Gretna's mayor is working to design a resilient new park design that could save homes and money and improve quality of life even when it isn’t raining.Learn more >
This film focuses on the re-purposing of the former Pirelli Building in New Haven, CT from an office building to a boutique hotel. The building was designed by Marcel Breuer, a leader of the Bauhaus movement and was completed in 1969. It is considered landmark in "Brutalist" architecture. The Hotel Marcel will be the 1st net zero hotel in the county and the 1st Passive House certified hotel as well. All of it's electric usage will be supplied by on-site solar PV panels with battery storage.
Big Marsh Park is the Chicago Park District’s largest reclamation project—a natural landscape damaged by slag from nearby steel mills. But in recent years, restorative efforts have aimed to set the park on a new course where industry, nature and culture can safely coexist. Big Marsh Park is now home to a 45-acre bike park and a series of walking trails that provide eco-recreation opportunities in Chicago’s Southeast Side. At the park’s entrance, the Ford Calumet Environmental Center serves as both a gateway and a hub—educating visitors about its past and setting precedent for a new, sustainable future throughout the Calumet Region.
Midtown: A Blueprint for Better
Duvall Decker, a Jackson architecture firm, worked alongside residents and community leaders to transform a struggling area into an example of healthy community revitalization.
Northeast Bronx YMCA
Marvel and the YMCA's newest facility in the Northeast Bronx is a project decades in the making. Community activists and politicians have been working together for thirty years to create this focal point for the entire neighborhood—a space that would allow all ages to gather, learn, and play. Located alongside NYCHA’s Baychester and Edenwald Houses, this new dynamic YMCA campus took extensive inspiration from the site's original forested land. A glass corridor seamlessly connects the three main pavilions, which are all situated around a central courtyard, celebrating the existing one hundred year old trees that enhance this unique building in a natural gesture. The YMCA building also includes two swimming pools, a 7,200 square foot dividable gymnasium, wellness center, teaching kitchen, rooftop garden, childcare, group exercise studios, and sub-dividable community and multipurpose rooms.
PopCourts is a pop-up park in the Austin neighborhood on Chicago’s Westside. Imagined as a respite from the challenges brought on by the pandemic, PopCourts provides much-needed outdoor amenity space in the heart of Austin. PopCourts is part of a larger vision to bring development to Chicago’s underinvested, and primarily black and brown communities.
RE Farm Café
An example of a small-scale regenerative project is the RE Farm Café in State College, Pennsylvania, with the original goal of creating a farm-to-table restaurant. Thinking beyond the restaurant itself, architects helped the owners plan how to reach out to local farmers and the surrounding agricultural community (as well as Penn State) to create a new type of marketplace tied to the endeavor. Ultimately, everyone worked together to create a co-op, a community-supported agriculture initiative, a farmers market, an educational venue for learning about regenerative agricultural practices, and, of course, the restaurant, all of which sparked a new economic hub in the region.Learn more >
The EastPoint Project
The EastPoint Project on the northeast side of Oklahoma City is a reimagined outdoor mall given new life by the collaboration between the architects at Gardner, the developers at Pivot Project and the City of Oklahoma City. The east side of OKC has seen a lack of investment as a result of redlining and segregation that dates as far back as 1915. EastPoint aims to be a catalyst, to encourage public and private developers to invest in the east side, and to inspire the community to envision what the neighborhood could become by rebuilding, rehabilitating, and infilling empty lots. As a product of the partnership between Gardner, Pivot Project, the City of OKC, and the community of the east side, EastPoint hopes be the first of many new developments where ownership is a part of the leasing agreement, so that eastside business owners to have the opportunity to hold equity in the real estate to which they help give value.
The Future of Affordable Housing
Architects are using modular design to create more cost-effective housing, changing the future of building in the processLearn more >
Two Pieces of Plywood
The 2020 general election was accompanied by a wave of targeted laws and voter suppression tactics. While shocking to many, this was not a new occurrence, particularly for minority and lower-income communities. But in a time when these same communities were already bearing the brunt of a global pandemic, new hindrances to the voting process seemed to be a brazen attempt to silence marginalized voices. In response, grassroots efforts quickly sprung up in cities across the country, organizing volunteers and campaigns to keep voters engaged and informed.
Duron Chavis, a seasoned organizer and food justice advocate, studied geographic information system maps of Richmond, his hometown, paying close attention to the Southside, his neighborhood. The data made perfect sense, he said—the hot spots for chronic disease were roughly the same areas on the map where people had limited access to healthy food. Chavis quickly mobilized resources to jump-start Resiliency Gardens at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and began distributing raised beds directly to people’s yards throughout the city.Learn more >
Youth Achievement Center: For Youth by Youth
The Youth Achievement Center is more than a tangible commitment to equity and restorative justice in South Seattle. It's a symbol of growth, empowerment, and legacy - designed for youth, by youth. With their vision to create a safe, supportive, vibrant community center - consisting of two mixed-used buildings with housing, social services, youth programs, work training retail space and more - the Youth Achievement Center embodies a powerful vision for future investment in Columbia City's BIPOC community.