The 2016 Biennale, titled Reporting From the Front, focused on public interest design and featured exhibits by big names in the field such as Alejandro Aravena, Sanaa, Francis Kere, and Rural Studio. Honestly, each exhibit could be an entire post! If you are interested in learning about each exhibit you can purchase the Reporting From the Front books online. There are three areas of the Biennale, the Arsenale, Giardini main building, and the country pavilions within the Giardini. This post shares photos from the Arsenale section of the 2016 Venice Architecture Biennale. The last few photos show recycled building materials from previous Biennales.

Interested in going? The 2018 Venice Architecture Biennale is now open. This year’s theme is Freespace, see details here.


Photo Oct 09, 1 42 57 PMHi all! I realize that it has been a while since I’ve posted anything new. We’ve recently had an addition to our family – baby Anders!

He’s kept my hands (& heart!) full these past few months. As the new parenting fog is lifting, I’m now able to jump back into blogging.

Look out for new public interest design posts coming soon. Thanks!



There are so many great gardens with public access in the DC area. With spring finally here it’s time to venture outside and visit one of these lovely spots for a picnic or tour.

My 4 favorite gardens:

1. Dumbarton Oaks: Nestled in Georgetown, Dumbarton Oaks is a 1920s garden with many distinct areas to tour like the informal Lover’s Lane Pool and more famous Pebble Garden designed by landscape architect Ruth Havey. Garden tickets $10. Museum free.

2. Hillwood Gardens: Just off the bike paths of Rock Creek Park and only a 15 minute walk from the Van Ness metro, the Hillwood Gardens is a transit friendly escape. Tour Marjorie Post’s house and grab lunch at the cafe or bring a picnic and sit at one of the many tables overlooking the Japanese garden. Suggested donation $18 for house and garden, includes tour.

3. Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens: On the river and across from the Arboretum these aquatic gardens have a different look with lily pads and bridges. Snack alongside colorful dragonflies which are the garden’s natural mosquito control. Entrance is free.

4. Brookside Gardens: A little further away in Maryland, just off of the Northwest Branch Trail are the Brookside Gardens. One of the bigger gardens, there is lots of variety here with hiking and walking paths. During colder days their conservatory houses seasonal exhibits. Entrance is free.



Every year, in September, DCBIA organizes a community improvement day. I volunteered with my work colleagues this year on a gorgeous end of summer day. We chipped stones and hauled dirt and even learned a thing or two about landscapes. Here’s why you should try it next year:

  1. Yes, you will work up a sweat. Many organized volunteer activities leave participants bored  without feeling like they’ve helped out. Not with DCBIA, they had enough work to keep 100+ people busy for 5 hours building a park + community garden.
  2. Spending time ‘in the field’.  It’s rare to get to build something without a mouse click.
  3. You can get involved before the big build. Volunteer architects, planners, engineers, and other designers start working on the plans months before the build day. See how you can get involved.

See more about the volunteer day here.


Inscape Publico has announced it’s inaugural Social Impact Design Celebration to be held at the Wonder Bread Factory on November 17, 2015. Two awards will be announced, one for a DC based social impact designer and another for a DC metro area project that has made triple bottom line impact. Attendees will be social entrepreneurs, nonprofits, designers and others who support this work. Food and drink are included but buy your ticket soon, early bird pricing is only available through October 1st. It promises to be a night public interest designers should not miss!

Purchase tickets here. Proceeds go to providing nonprofits in need with probono design services.


Bryan Bell and Lisa M. Abendroth have  published their new book called the Public Interest Design Practice Handbook: SEED Methodology, Case Studies, and Critical Issues.

Whether you are working in the field of architecture, urban planning, industrial design, landscape architecture, or communication design, this book empowers you to create community-centered environments, products, and systems.

Themes including public participation, issue-based design, and assessment are referenced throughout the book and provide benchmarks toward an informed practice. This comprehensive manual also contains a glossary, an appendix of engagement methods, a case study locator atlas, and a reading list. 

Order your copy here. Read more on Impact Design Hub.



Last day to register!!

The DC Living Building Challenge Collaborative has been working with the District Department of the Environment (DDOE) and the DC Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) to propose this competition. The competition is to design 10-15 Living Building Challenge residences in the Deanwood neighborhood of Washington DC.

“The DDOE has been fundamental in incorporating the Living Building Challenge into the fabric of the DC’s sustainable language.  In 2013 ILFI, the new buildings institute (nbi,) and Skanska wrote a comprehensive paper prepared for by the Department of Consumer & Regulatory Affairs and Sustainable DC, DDOE called, Net Zero and Living Building Challenge Financial Study: A Cost Comparison Report for Buildings in the District of Columbia.”

See more and register your team at DCLBCC.