HMC Architects recently set out to impact their local communities by asking their staff, “If you could make a difference in your community, what would you do?” And in response to that question came The Community Project, an initiative from HMC’s non-profit Designing Futures Foundation (DFF) that empowers team members to create, lead, and complete projects that positively impact the communities in which they live and work. Over the past few months, employees proposed their project ideas to the DFF Board of Directors for funding consideration. Five projects were selected as 2011 Community Project award winners.

Teaching Sustainability Workshops at McKinley Elementary School

Project Champion: Pablo La Roche

Working in partnership with Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District and McKinley Elementary School, HMC’s ArchLab will develop and implement a year-long series of sustainability workshops for elementary school children. The objective is to communicate a global perspective of environmental awareness and how elementary school children can contribute to sustainable living. At the conclusion of the sustainability workshops, the project team will publish the experience so that it can serve as a model for other schools, faculty, parents, and communities.

Funding the Expansion of the Children’s Fund Assessment Center

Project Champion: Laurie Connell

Four children die each day in the United States as a result of abuse and neglect. In San Bernardino, Calif., roughly 40,000 child abuse cases will be reported to Child Protective Services this year. Operated by doctors, the Children’s Fund Assessment Center is a place where children who are victims of suspected abuse can be interviewed and assessed in an emotionally safe and supportive environment at no cost to the family. The DFF will support the expansion of the Assessment Center so that more medical exams and forensic interviews can be conducted annually to meet the growing needs of the community.

Launching a Healthcare Architecture Initiative at Cal Poly Pomona

Project Champion: Bob Kain

Cal Poly Pomona is widely recognized for preparing students to make knowledgeable, thoughtful, socially, and environmentally responsible contributions to the practice of architecture. With the prospect of rapidly changing healthcare delivery and practices in the U.S., there is a growing need for a new approach to healthcare architecture, one that Cal Poly Pomona will begin to address with a new and innovative program based in the Department of Architecture. With the support of DFF, Cal Poly Pomona will be able to bring in industry experts to support and enrich their healthcare architecture courses, thereby equipping future architects with the skills and vision to address complex healthcare issues.

Presenting Design Education and Sustainability Workshops in Collaboration with Hands On Inland Empire
Project Champion: Israel Peña

Dwindling education budgets are threatening the elimination of any educational experiences that are not directly related to the core curriculum. As a result, many students never have the chance to think outside the box and develop their creative thinking skills. The DFF will support the development of a series of educational workshops led by HMC staff and Hands On Inland Empire to provide students a unique opportunity to learn about design, sustainability, and the built environment. Workshops will include design charrettes, modeling and technology (SketchUp/Revit/AutoCad), math (estimating), and lessons in sustainability.

Funding a Sustainable Learning Garden at Norco College

Project Champion: Jim Wurst

The use of non-native plants and expansive green lawns so common in Southern California is a drain to already scarce water resources. One of the most effective ways to conserve water is to replace these resource-consuming plants with native and drought-tolerant plantings. The DFF will support the design and construction of a water demonstration garden at Norco College that will replace a heavily watered lawn. This project will provide long-term benefits to the college by supporting curriculum in environmental science, biology, botany, and even chemistry. The garden will contain a compost demonstration site, a demonstration site that details drip irrigation, and every plant will be labeled with an educational botanical placard signifying the name, history, and uses of each plant.

About HMC Designing Futures Foundation

Giving back to the communities HMC serves has been a foundational aspect of the Designing Futures Foundation (DFF). Since its founding, the DFF has facilitated commitments of more than $200,000 in funding to support community outreach initiatives, research efforts, and scholarships. The Community Project is intended to promote community volunteerism from HMC staff, address challenges facing communities, and benefit the profession of architecture.