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September 30, 2020
by Center for Architecture
Design Advocates at Kopitiam. Courtesy of Design Advocates.
Design Advocates' work for Le Paris Dakar in Crown Heights. Courtesy of Design Advocates.
Bed prototype for BRC by Design Advocates. Courtesy of Design Advocates.
Stills from nycobaNOMA's Project Pipeline video, produced by BOLT Architecture and shot by Herman Jean-Noel and Alvin Dollow. Courtesy of nycobaNOMA.
Stills from nycobaNOMA's Project Pipeline video, produced by BOLT Architecture and shot by Herman Jean-Noel and Alvin Dollow. Courtesy of nycobaNOMA.
Stills from nycobaNOMA's Project Pipeline video, produced by BOLT Architecture and shot by Herman Jean-Noel and Alvin Dollow. Courtesy of nycobaNOMA.
Stills from nycobaNOMA's Project Pipeline video, produced by BOLT Architecture and shot by Herman Jean-Noel and Alvin Dollow. Courtesy of nycobaNOMA.

The Center for Architecture is preparing to celebrate Common Bond: The Center for Architecture Gala on October 22, 2020. Common Bond, formerly known as the Heritage Ball, serves as the single largest funding source for the Center for Architecture, allowing the organization to fulfill its mission to educate the public about the value of architecture and design alongside its partner, AIA New York. Besides offering a unique opportunity for professional networking, the event provides critical funding for the exhibitions, programs, scholarships and activities of the Center for Architecture, including our in-demand K-12 education programs. Consider supporting the event by purchasing a sponsorship, ticket, or ad by October 13.

This year, Common Bond will be held as a virtual celebration, allowing our supporters to safely celebrate design in New York City. In lieu of traditional honorees, for this year’s gala the Center for Architecture sought nominations for our Spotlight Series: projects, people, and groups who have exemplified outstanding leadership in creating a more just and equitable future.

Get to know our 2020 Spotlight Series below!

Design Advocates

Design Advocates is a network of experienced architecture, design, and advising firms, as well as individuals, who volunteer their time and expertise to collaborate on projects, research, and advocacy to serve the public good. Initiated in April 2020 as a non-profit platform for collecting data and empowering design businesses in the era of COVID-19, Design Advocates has since expanded into a collective effort to match designers with those in need by providing pro-bono design services to small businesses and community organizations while engaging in ongoing advocacy for the broader independent design industry. In particular, Design Advocates pushes for equitable design and firm diversity to contribute to a just built environment.

The organization’s Test Fits initiative leverages the creative energy and collaborative spirit of its members. In order to help local businesses, non-profits, and institutions respond to the crisis, Design Advocates is adapting their spaces and operations for reopening, creating strategies to ensure safe and comfortable continuing operation. Test Fits is currently serving clients on a pro-bono basis, assisting restaurants such as Kopitiam in Chinatown and Le Paris Dakar and La Napa in Crown Heights, social services organizations such as the Bowery Residents Committee and Housing Works, community institutions such as the Greater Harlem Chamber of Commerce, and schools and arts organizations.

Inherent in the Test Fits program and the broader mission of Design Advocates is a commitment to providing long-term design solutions to the most vulnerable, during the pandemic and beyond. Creating a seat at the table for the design community to provide input and receive work is central to their mission to empower designers to help safely guide New York City into the future. Thinking creatively on behalf of all types of small businesses, non-profits, and community organizations impacted by the pandemic, Design Advocates also aims to investigate how specific needs can be addressed through design and through advocacy on an agency or governmental level. Through the process of collaboration between all of the design firms involved, as well as between Design Advocates and their clients, the group hopes to build a new framework through which equitable design outcomes, driven by mutual advocacy, can be established.

NOMA’s Project Pipeline

NOMA’s Project Pipeline’s mission is to empower young people to effect change in their communities through design. Using the city as the classroom and connecting young people to real-world architects and planners, the project fosters the next generation of design professionals, civic leaders, and changemakers.

Project Pipeline was born at the 2002 NOMA Conference in Fort Lauderdale, when then-president Paul Taylor asked Drake Dillard and David Kirk to establish a camp that would focus on introducing minority students to architecture, with the ultimate goal of creating more licensed minority architects. Since the first camp, hosted in Cincinnati in 2006, dozens of other camps have been held in more than 20 cities.

NOMA’s Project Pipeline summer camps provide 6-12 grade students of color with the opportunity to learn the fundamentals of architecture and design. Students work closely with architects and designers to create the designs they would like to see in their communities. For many students, Project Pipeline is their first introduction to the design world. Students investigate through drawing and model building, analyze through diagramming and research, and engage through interviews and site visits. By the program’s conclusion, students present a fully realized project that addresses an issue in their city.

Project Pipeline serves a diverse population of students, all of whom are underrepresented in the design field. Through the initiative, young people grasp the significance of architecture in their daily lives, as well as its broader cultural, social, and historical implications. Over the last decade, Project Pipeline has served more than 10,000 students.

Due to COVID-19, 2020 summer camps were held virtually to ensure the safety of students and volunteers. NOMA developed a new online eight-day day camp accessible to children from all over the United States.


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