DDi - September 2012 - (Page 72)
72 | Think Tank
ometimes doing good really does make a difference. When I first met Rhonda Buckley, founder and then executive director of the Sitar Arts Center in Washington, D.C., the entire facility was housed in the basement of an apartment building. At the time, they were providing arts education to a few dozen children, primarily through music lessons. Four years later, the Sitar Arts Center lives in a 12,000-sq.-ft. building designed by my firm, Inscape Studio. We did the concept design pro bono and charged less than $10,000 for the remaining fees (including construction documents). A year later, I was sitting in the building’s new theater watching the first annual Sitar summer musical. It was a production of “The Wiz,” and the lights on the stage were as bright as the lights in the children’s eyes (set design was also provided by Inscape). It was a reminder for me of why Inscape chooses to work with like-minded organizations. We believe that architecture has the power to inspire; watching the performance that day confirmed that assertion. Inscape Studio, the precursor and sister firm to Inscape Publico, grew from our collaborations with non-profit organizations.
The choice you make to collaborate with non-profit organizations is not only for altruistic motives, but leads to healthy, sustainable design firms.
The rewards are numerous: • The design opportunities are endless, including schools, multifamily housing, community centers, medical centers, single-family homes and arts facilities. • The client interaction is rewarding, both professionally and personally. • The boards of directors for most non-profit organizations are made up of local and national business leaders. Building a relationship with these individuals gives rise to future design opportunities and partnerships. • The diverse portfolio that non-profit work brings to a firm attracts intelligent and creative minds to your practice. • A diverse portfolio and top-level staff equates to higher long-term profits (in our experience). After working with the Sitar Arts Center, I began to work with several other local and international non-profit organizations. The time spent with these organizations has provided an invaluable education about the workings of organizations that serve the common good. For six years, I served on the board of directors at the Latino Economic Development Corp., my final two years as chairperson. I also had the opportunity to serve on the board of Action to Rehabilitate Community Housing, and I currently serve on the board of the Hamiltonian Artists. My time with these organizations has given me a better understanding of how non-profits operate. I can connect the dots within a non-profit organization with a greater understanding of the fiduciary responsibilities of a 501(c)(3), including program management and development strategies. Most importantly, I have gained the understanding that the people you serve are your greatest asset. Many architecture firms offer professional design services to non-profits
pro bono or for significantly reduced fees, and Inscape Studio has done the same. We can afford to take on a limited number of non-profit clients when the profits from our for-profit clients allow. The idea that led to Inscape Publico was to create a non-profit architecture firm that would be able to spend 100 percent of its time dedicated to creating inspiring spaces for other non-profits and the people they serve. We typically discount our fees for our work by 66 percent to 75 percent from what for-profit firms charge. As a non-profit, we are able to raise additional monies to bridge this fee gap through private and public grants, online fundraising opportunities and resources from our board of directors. At Inscape Publico, we take our projects through schematic design, creating the vision for our non-profit clients through deliverables that include plans, elevations and 3-D images. These drawings and images allow our clients to begin fundraising activities, secure public and private financing for site acquisition and construction, and to share their vision with all stakeholders. With funding in place, our non-profit clients can hire a for-profit architecture firm to create the construction documents necessary to turn ideas into bricks and mortar, glass and steel. With the relationship we have built with our non-profit clients during the schematic design phase, we have been able to continue the collaboration through to the realization of the built environment. And at the end of the day, we sleep better knowing that our “doing good” really is making a difference. Just ask Rhonda Buckley. —Gregory Kearley is the owner of Washington, D.C.-based Inscape Studio, an architecture firm dedicated to contemporary design that is socially responsible and environmentally sensitive. In 2011, he founded Inscape Publico, a non-profit architecture firm whose mission is to collaborate with other non-profits to create architecture that reflects their particular vision and serves their clients’ needs. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of DDi - September 2012
DDi - September 2012
Table of Contents
From the Editor
From the Show Director
Portfolio Awards 2012
Retail Design Luminaries
Retail Design Influencers
Design Firms of the Year
Best Visual Merchandising Programs
Retailer of the Year
Best-Designed Stores of the Year
DDi - September 2012