Case | HBS Case Collection | July 2010 (Revised September 2012)

Public Architecture

by Lakshmi Ramarajan, Christopher Marquis and Bobbi Thomason


Public Architecture is a non-profit architecture company dedicated to creating social and professional change through design for the public good. Public has focused on three strategies to create change: 1) promoting the design community's commitment to pro bono work, 2) inspiring action through creating design with a social mission, and 3) disseminating knowledge created by socially relevant design throughout the profession. As a central actor and change agent in the profession, Public Architecture created The 1% Program, a national network of architecture and design firms that have publicly pledged to donate 1% of their billable hours to the public good. However, the organization has been struggling to keep both The 1% Program and its own design initiatives integrated and reinforcing each other in creating social and professional change. Should Public split into two organizations? Would keeping the diverse elements within Public Architecture together force the entire organization to the least common denominator or would it provide them with a flexible platform for creating social change? These questions have important implications for Public's growth strategy, their funding, and resource allocation decisions.

Keywords: Design; Innovation and Management; Growth and Development Strategy; Corporate Social Responsibility and Impact; Organizational Culture; Organizational Structure; Nonprofit Organizations; Business Strategy; Integration;


Ramarajan, Lakshmi, Christopher Marquis, and Bobbi Thomason. "Public Architecture." Harvard Business School Case 411-030, July 2010. (Revised September 2012.)