Architecture for Humanity, the international nonprofit that addresses global humanitarian problems with sustainable architectural solutions, recently shut down its San Francisco headquarters. The organization quietly laid off all staff and closed its head office in San Francisco on January 1 after a long struggle to secure funding. In the past 15 years, the international group provided on-the-ground support for major global crises, including disaster relief in post-Katrina Gulf Coast and in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake.
Founded by Cameron Sinclair and Kate Stohr in 1999, Architecture for Humanity quickly grew from a small group of volunteers to an international organization that spawned 60 international chapters at its peak. Although the need for Architecture for Humanity’s services has not waned, the organization has struggled to keep interest and funding over time. Its high-profile founders Stohr and Sinclair also stepped down as leaders of the organization in September 2013.
“The travesty isn’t that the organization went over budget serving communities around the world,” said Margie O’Driscoll, former executive director of the San Francisco chapter of the American Institute of Architects to SF Gate. “It is that humanitarian design isn’t considered a fundamental right. And that today, in San Francisco, it is easier to find funding for an app than to fund an organization which transforms lives in places most Americans don’t know exist.”
Although Architecture for Humanity’s San Francisco headquarters has closed, leaders from the organization’s remaining chapters around the world have voiced their commitment to continue operations.