As we end one decade and leap forward to the next, it is an opportune moment to reflect on who we are and what we value. We are architects and designers, continually building families, constructing communities, and shaping the world around us. Through our daily actions and the choices we make, we are responsible for creating the world in which we want to live.
What does it mean to be philanthropic? Merriam-Webster defines “philanthropy” as: “Goodwill to fellow members of the human race especially : active effort to promote human welfare, an act or gift done or made for humanitarian purposes, or an organization distributing or supported by funds set aside for humanitarian purposes.”
Architecture and charity work have long gone hand-in-hand, and responsible architectural firms recognize the importance of philanthropy, whether through pro bono work or other contributions. Here are some of the ways HMC Architects gives back to the communities we serve.
Why We Believe Architecture and Charity Are a Perfect Match
One reason architecture and charity are so well suited for each other is that architects spend a great deal of time thinking carefully about other people’s needs, whether they’re doing pro bono projects or not. Great architecture, like philanthropy, involves identifying challenges affecting a community and dedicating your time and resources to solving them.
Skilled architects are especially good at putting themselves in other people’s shoes and empathizing with causes that matter.
For example, when we design a school, we get into the weeds to imagine exactly what it would be like to be a student at that school. What type of classroom design would help students learn more effectively? How can we support students facing food insecurity? What can we do to make schools safer? These are all issues that have an impact not only on students but on the surrounding community. A well-designed school encourages students to graduate and contribute positively to their communities after graduation. Happy and secure students also improve community morale and pride. In this sense, the decisions we make as architects have a ripple effect that continues long after projects are complete.
But it’s also important to support charitable causes outside of the work of architecture. When architecture firms support non-profit organizations, it not only helps these organizations reach their goals, but it also helps the architecture firm create a culture of philanthropy, reinforces important core principles, and helps architects bring a charitable mindset to every project.
Philanthropic events and contributions also give architects a greater range of experiences to draw from when they design buildings. For example, participating in a fundraising walk to bring awareness to homelessness could inspire the inclusion of design elements and features in public civic centers that support people with housing insecurity. Architecture thrives when a diverse set of voices are brought to the table, and charitable work is a great way to bring awareness to these voices.
How HMC Architects Gives Back to the Community
At HMC Architects, we believe that architecture and charity are a natural combination. The HMC Designing Futures Foundation (DFF) was founded in 2009 as a 501(3)(c) organization designed to deepen the firm’s commitment to giving back. Over the past decade, the DFF has invested more than one million dollars in its communities locally and globally with a focus on architecture and design, STEM and STEAM education, and sustainability. Through HMC’s corporate giving, the Designing Futures Foundation scholarship and social innovation grant programs, community partnerships, employee volunteerism, pro bono design services, in-kind donations, and responsible business practices, HMC is building a better world for future generations.Here are just a few of the causes we’ve supported in recent years:
HMC Million Meals Initiative
The HMC Million Meals initiative was started as a way to help families and individuals impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The DFF will donate an additional $100,000 in April to nonprofits in the Feeding America and Share Our Strength/No Kid Hungry networks to provide 1,000,000 meals ($1 = 10 meals) to families, children, and seniors facing food insecurity as a result of the current pandemic.
Every year, the Ronald McDonald House in San Diego holds a fundraising event called Tables for Tots to raise money to support families with children being treated for serious, often life-threatening conditions at local hospitals. Local architectural firms are given a child-sized table and set of chairs that they can use to create an “adventure” for a child. The result is then auctioned off to the highest bidder, with the goal of raising money for local children’s charities. One year, we created “Rock and Roll,” a set that features a recreational space for children to play and create sound and music with movement. Children are invited to sit and “rock” with two rocking chairs and “roll” in the human-scale hamster wheel.
HMC Architects participated in a charity walk through the streets of downtown Los Angeles to bring awareness to homelessness and raise funds to help people affected by homelessness. Our walking team, Happy Feet, made its way through different areas of the city over the course of the day. We were deeply inspired by the many buildings we saw and learned a great deal about the neighborhoods we visited. It was an enlightening experience that informs our design process to this day.
These are just a handful of the many charity events we’ve participated in over the years. Our firm has long been dedicated to charitable causes, particularly ones where our expertise as architects is needed. We love to use our knowledge and experience to help organizations build essential structures or raise money for great causes.
Why Choose an Architectural Firm That Prioritizes Charitable Work
HMC is not just another architecture firm with a three-letter acronym. HMC is a very special place made up of people who genuinely care about the impact they have on the people around them and their communities. We are parents, sisters, brothers, community leaders, volunteers, caregivers, and coaches, driven by a common mission and sense of purpose to make a positive impact. We share a collective mindset that our choices and our work matter.
When you work with a firm that takes both architecture and charity seriously, you benefit, along with the community. Architects who contribute their time to charitable causes are more likely to approach your project with care and compassion. They’ll keep the human element of the design front and center and ensure that the space is as comfortable and adaptive as possible for end-users.
Moreover, your community will appreciate your decision to choose a firm that values charitable work. Partnering with an architectural firm that truly cares is a great way to increase goodwill toward the project among community members. This is especially true for civic projects like hospitals, libraries, and community recreation centers. Your community wants to see that their spaces are being built by firms that have experience doing positive things for communities both inside and outside their own.
Finally, supporting the relationship between architecture and charity benefits the industry and community as a whole. Architects who consistently take into consideration those in need will positively impact society. Our future cities will be built by architects who understand the value of civic duty, good environmental stewardship, and compassion in the face of hardship. The projects that they go on to design will reflect these essential values and help our communities blossom.
Our architectural firm makes a conscious effort to support as many charitable causes as we can every year, and we bring this same level of compassion and care to our clients’ projects. If you’re ready to work with a passionate team of architects, contact HMC Architects today. Or, to learn more about the charitable causes we support, you can also email Director of Social Innovation and HMC Designing Futures Foundation Adrienne Luce directly.