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September 22, 2007

My Thesis, My Life

Hey All,

Here's the latest version of my Hypothesis and Thesis statement for your reading (dis)pleasure.


I returned from studying in Biloxi, MS encouraged by the work I participated in and observed dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. I was heartened to see architects and designers offering their services to people who would not usually be able to afford them and yet would benefit from them. Returning to Minnesota, I did not know where to look to find an opportunity to do similar work in an architecture firm. I began to wonder what a humanitarian practice of architecture, one for those unable to purchase design services, would look like. Questions began to surface such as: How does one go about forming a practice around this idea? Who will the client be? Who will fund the projects? Are there current models within the discipline of architecture that could be used for such a firm? I know from empirical experience that there are people using design skill to improve the lives of others, so it seems to me that an architect could practice exclusively in this way.

Thesis Statement:

People and groups within the discipline are using their design skills to better the lives of individuals and communities. Many firms devote a small portion of their services on a pro-bono basis. Some, such as the organization Architecture for Humanity, work to connect designers with projects and funding and to increase awareness of needs that exist. Numerous colleges and universities have educational programs designed to teach students while also providing design services to peoples in need. Community design centers also provide design services to neighborhoods and larger communities across the nation. Each of these groups and individuals meet legitimate public needs in various ways and at various scales. I am interested in exploring a humanitarian practice of architecture—one dedicated to help meet peoples’ basic human needs. My thesis proposes that an architecture firm dedicated solely to meeting humanitarian needs can be sustainable. Here sustainable refers to the continual maintenance of every operational aspect of a normal firm: clients, work, finances, liability, as well as construction and administration. The goal is to explore the possibility of a firm that can reasonably support its employees and itself while working to improve the lives of others.

There you have it. I hope you are all making some headway on your theses. If any of you need any help with your thesis, don't hesitate to ask.