Don Powell: Celebrating Community Service

Don Powell

It’s the time of year for giving thanks, giving back, and celebrating the successes of our peers. In that spirit, I’d like to highlight three remarkable examples of architecture-related public service that have caught my eye in the last few weeks.

I’d first like to salute Dallas-based Corgan Associates on its nationwide recognition for ethics and corporate commitment to community service. The Dallas Morning News reported the architecture and interiors firm volunteered roughly 1,200 hours with community organizations and provided $100,000 in pro bono professional services. Corgan is to be commended on this extraordinary accomplishment—one that reflects very positively on our community.

Second, in the first week of the New Year, 19 undergraduate architecture students from the University of Texas at Austin will travel Santa Rosa, Honduras, to build a school and community center they helped design with students from five other prestigious universities. Hands-on experiences that encourage global awareness are refreshing and invaluable for us all. These students deserve our accolades.

Finally, for something completely unexpected, please take a moment to check out a recent New York Times feature on Ice Cube. Yes, the gangsta rapper brings us a rundown of his favorite Los Angeles architectural gems. Turns out he’s a former architectural drafting student and an admirer or Charles and Ray Eames. Many will be surprised and perhaps perplexed by Mr. Cube’s public service announcement dispelling misconceptions about LA’s design milieu. It’s another example of a worthwhile campaign through which architecture can positively influence a community.

Because we’re now informed that the cliché about “six degrees of separation” is really closer to 4.74 degrees, maybe Ice Cube’s interest in architecture will influence the Charles Eames side of me to check out some “mash-up” music tracks. We can learn a great deal by giving back and learning from one another.

Donald R. Powell Jr. serves as principal-in-charge of an architecture and design firm he launched three decades ago, now known as BOKA Powell. Contact him at dpowell@bokapowell.com.

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