INTERVIEW: We Talk to Architecture for Humanity’s Co-Founder Kate Stohr

by , 07/23/13
Design Like You Give A Damn 2, kate stohr, architecture for humanity, book giveaway, humanitarian design, inhabitat interview

Photo: Pasi Aalto/TYIN Tegnestue

Inhabitat: What did you learn from this latest round of amazing humanitarian design projects?

Kate Stohr: Well, I got the happy assignment of writing the finance essay. So lets just say I learned a lot. I had actually written quite a long, in-depth essay based on reading dozens and dozens of extremely turgid white papers and reviews on everything from housing micro-finance to community benefit packages and tax increment financing. Then, at the ninth hour we needed to cut to meet our page count. Suddenly what was an essay became a handy dandy chart. And, you know what, I can honestly say, I don’t think the reader is missing anything in the translation. In fact, I am wondering why no one did that a long time ago. Just think how many trees we could have saved.

The other interesting piece of that is that I looked back at historical financing structures. When I did that, I discovered what is now my new favorite cocktail party factoid: Did you know that for the bulk of the past 500 years the main financing instrument for the construction of institutions such as hospitals, churches and schools was not loans or charitable giving or tax dollars, but rather, the lottery? In fact, during the colonial era in the United States, many of our top universities were built with funds derived from government sanctioned lotteries.

Inhabitat: What were some of the most interesting projects you came across and why?

Kate Stohr: I think the Marsupial Bridge & Media Garden designed by La Dallman Architects struck me the most. It wasn’t a project I’d seen anywhere before and the idea was so brilliantly, elegantly simple. I also love the project on school lunchroom design by a group of smart researchers up at Cornell. VPUU’s use of GIS mapping to reduce crime in Cape Town. The review of transitional housing Haiti that Architecture for Humanity’s Haiti office did in partnership with Habitat for Humanity was really smart because it showed how to fix the problem instead of just pointing out the issues. I also really loved Jeanne Gang‘s use of concrete for the SOS Village project in Chicago. Ok, yeah, they are all my favorites.

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