Carl Bower

Andrew Goodwin, AIA, is the editor-in-chief of Public, a new magazine focused on public interest design. Goodwin is a San Luis Obispo, Calif.–based architect and co-founder of Conscious Build, which launched the magazine in 2014, and he is the 2015 president-elect of AIA California Council Central Coast Chapter. “Architects have the opportunity to create multiple stories of impact through just one created space,” he says.

In Public, my goal is to create compelling editorial features that center on what we call “impact design.” It’s design that’s for people, by people. This movement is about catalyzing change, which requires us to step outside of our four walls and see other people’s communities, economies, and environments. I was brought up to believe that sustainability is a three-legged stool: economic, environmental, and social responsibility. And this philosophy of sustainability has become foundational to almost every architecture firm out there in the last 20 years.

Of the three legs of the stool, social responsibility is starting to eclipse both the economic and the environmental arguments. Why? Because if people are first supported in terms of culture and community, then their economic well-being and environmental contributions will follow. The private sector maintains its realm as a self-sustaining system. But people in the private sector can still see the impact of good design on others.

We need to look for ways to market the impact of sustainable design so that it retains the spirit of a social movement while effectively and measurably increasing awareness and, ultimately, action. The hardest parts of the movement are the definitions we use for words. The more we can draw in real examples of so-called “humanitarian design,” “public interest design,” or “human-centered design,” the sooner we can start to combine those terms under one larger, definitive principle.

There are a lot of what I call “slashers” coming out of school now—architects/designers—and I think impact design is area of expertise that is suited for them. You can be writers, designers, advocates, fundraisers, project managers, teachers, and architects all at the same time. What has helped me as an editor is my architecture training. Architecture is about analytical problem-solving. Looking at the challenge of launching a magazine, it’s really no different than the challenge of launching any other creative and purpose-driven endeavor. —As told to William Richards