Category Archives: Community

Social Impact Focused PUBLIC Journal released Second Issue

public journal, issue 2, public interest design, humanitarian design

The team at PUBLIC Journal proudly released the second issue of this wonderful magazine focused on all the good that designers are doing around the world. ConsciousBuild co-founder, and PUBLIC’s EIC, Andrew Goodwin, described this issue brilliantly in his letter to the readers:

As Samuel Mockbee once said, “architecture has to be greater than just architecture. It has to address social values, as well as technical and aesthetic values.” This second issue of PUBLIC Journal meets Mockbee’s challenge head on. Our contributors have brought together a group of stories that examine how architecture and the process of design can change lives – sometimes for years to come. We examine how Jensen Architects’ SHED in Healdsburg, Calif. tells the story of how re-imaging the space for the Grange movement can help breath life into small towns. Two projects from two different universities (Tulane and Virginia Tech) help to illustrate how teaching the next generation of change-makers is essential for the future of architecture. We also take a trip across the pond, yet again, to Africa, where we see how a project can help to bring economy and social sustainability to a community in need.

Please download the PUBLIC App or order a subscription online. Individual issues are also available online!


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Building Foundations for the Future: RWANDA


Some of the pro-bono clients of ConsciousBuild’s unique business model are beginning to bear fruit, and we felt it was necessary to illustrate the model again – as well as the results!

ConsciousBuild believes that all people deserve good design in this world, even if they can’t afford it. That is why our business model operates so that we can set aside some of the profit from our clients in order to work on  pro-bono and non-profit projects each year. Last year, we found that we dedicated 3.2% of our profit and time to pro-bono projects. One of those projects is the Sunzu Library in Rwanda.

The Sunzu Library is a community project for the Sunzu Village in the Northern Province of Rwanda. This region is known to be home to some of the poorest and most under-educated people in Rwanda. The owner of the property reached out to Journeyman International (our sister non-profit design organization), and had an idea of how to promote change throughout this region. His idea was to build a “library”, which could also be used as a women’s center, a community meeting room, and a library for children. Our staff at ConsciousBuild teamed with two SLO-based structural engineers (Michel Kalin of MKSE, and Dove Daniel of Cannon) in order to provide working construction drawings for the client, and over the past year the client has began to build the library with a volunteer workforce. Just recently the walls went up!

If you want to learn more about how you can contribute to this kind of work, or if you have a project that may be perfect for our team, please contact us at Even your custom home project here in California can have a huge impact on populations half a world away through ConsciousBuild’s pro bono commitment!


+ Andrew C. Goodwin, AIA, LEED AP
Photo Credits: Dan Klinck




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PUBLIC Journal Is Coming!


Folks clear out your bookshelves and charge your smart phones, because this Tuesday, May 6th, a new design journal is hitting the newsstands and app stores! PUBLIC Journal is a new quarterly publication that will blow your mind and provide that fuzzy warm feeling inside with thought provoking articles about Public Interest Design. It is the intersection between the world of architecture and the voices of activism, exposing those who provide good design for the people who need it most but often don’t receive it. Lets face it – conscious designers making noteworthy impacts are needed more than ever. This is why a group of humanitarians in the fields of architecture, environmental design, and public policy came together to form PUBLIC.

PUBLIC Journal will truly be about the content and will have limited but long term partnerships with like-minded advertisers. The bulk of the journal will be entirely focused on the projects; featuring exceptional photography paired with the highest degree of analytical writing done by the industry’s most forward thinking and talented journalists. Today’s Public Interest Design movement deserves to be exposed and talked about. Through PUBLIC Journal, professionals, universities, corporations, and global citizens will now have a noteworthy journal to satisfy their humanitarian cravings.

PUBLIC Journal will debut its first Spring Issue this Tuesday, May 6th. It will be available in print through a subscription base, and hopefully will be on newsstands later in the year. The easiest way to access PUBLIC is digitally through our mobile apps in Apple Newsstand, Google Play, and Amazon.

Like PUBLIC on Facebook and Follow PUBLIC on Twitter and automatically get entered into a drawing to win a FREE issue!

+M. Farid Shahid


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Shigeru Ban, 2014 Pritzker Prize Laureate

Cardboard Cathedral, Christchurch, New Zealand, 2013 
Photo by Stephen Goodenough

Architect: Shigeru Ban

Cardboard Cathedral, Christchurch, New Zealand, 2013
Photo by Stephen Goodenough

Back in 1979 the Pritzker family established The Pritzker Architecture Prize using funds from their Hyatt Foundation. The Pritzker Prize is awarded annually to one living architect for significant achievement. It is referred to as the most prestigious award an architect can receive in their lifetime. If chosen, the architect receives $100,000, a bronze medallion, and a ceremony at an architecturally significant site. Some past winners have been Jean Nouvel, Thom Mayne, Rem Koolhaas, Zaha Hadid, and many more.

It was just announced a few weeks ago that the 2014 laureate of The Pritzker Architecture Prize is Japanese architect Shigeru Ban. After looking through his portfolio of work you will notice his elegant attention to detail and craft. One of the reasons he was chosen by the jury this year is for his inventive and resourceful design process regardless of who his client is. Ban has done work for high end private clients as well as humanitarian organizations. For twenty years he has travelled to natural disaster sites around the world to work with local citizens and provide them with low-cost and dignified design & construction solutions.

Shigeru Ban is quoted in saying, “Receiving this prize is a great honor, and with it, I must be careful. I must continue to listen to the people I work for, in my private residential commissions and in my disaster relief work. I see this prize as encouragement for me to keep doing what I am doing — not to change what I am doing, but to grow.“

One aspect of Ban’s work I would like to highlight is his innovative use of cardboard paper tubes. You can see them being used as columns, beams, and as walls when grouped together. These tubes are usually available locally and are easy to transport and build with. Ban says his Japanese upbringing has led him to design with as little waste as possible.

When announcing this year’s laureate, Tom Pritzker said, “Shigeru Ban’s commitment to humanitarian causes through his disaster relief work is an example for all. Innovation is not limited by building type and compassion is not limited by budget. Shigeru has made our world a better place.”

I encourage you to learn more about Shigeru Ban by visiting his website, Lastly, this year’s award ceremony will take place on June 13th, 2014 at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. You can stream it live by visiting

+ M. Farid Shahid
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“If You Build It”-Film Review

This past week was the 20th anniversary of the San Luis Obispo International Film Festival. All week long dozens of world class films were shown throughout the county at every film venue you can imagine. This year Journeyman International and ConsciousBuild Inc. proudly sponsored the viewing of If You Build It at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. The film, “follows designer-activists Emily Pilloton and Matthew Miller to rural Bertie County, the poorest in North Carolina, where they work with local high school students to help transform both their community and their lives. Living on credit and grant money and fighting a change-resistant school board, Pilloton and Miller lead their students through a year-long, full-scale design and build project that does much more than just teach basic construction skills: it shows ten teenagers the power of design-thinking to re-invent not just their town but their own sense of what’s possible” (

#1 - Emily Pilloton with Studio H students CJ Robertson and Stevie Mizelle. From IF YOU BUILD IT, a Long Shot Factory Release 2013_small

Emily Pilloton with Studio H students CJ Robertson and Stevie Mizelle. From IF YOU BUILD IT, a Long Shot Factory Release 2013

#10 - The completed Windsor Farmers Market at dusk. From IF YOU BUILD IT, a Long Shot Factory Release 2013. Courtesy of Brad Feinknopf_small

The completed Windsor Farmers Market at dusk. From IF YOU BUILD IT, a Long Shot Factory Release 2013. Courtesy of Brad Feinknopf.


This documentary is a slam dunk in my opinion! The high-end production quality, witty humor, and captivating story line will keep you in your seat for the entire 95 minutes. The film starts off by introducing rural Bertie County and the high school students it will follow. The film maker depicts the town as this degrading sinkhole that has no future outlook for its youth. The current working class is barely making it and all the youth are leaving town with every opportunity they get. Emily and Matt arrive to change all that and to instill hope for their town by motivating a group of high school students to build a community center.

After completing this film I was completely astonished with what high school students could achieve with a little support and guidance. At first, most of the students resisted and didn’t want to be in the program. However, after completing some smaller projects they realized how rewarding design can be. Towards the end of the two years each and every student had grown tremendously in their character, skills, and passion for Bertie County. If you are passionate about design & community then this is a must see film for you!

Official Trailer:

Panel Discussion:

After the film had ended,  Journeyman International and ConsciousBuild hosted a special panel discussion to share what public interest design meant to them. The audience was mostly SLO County residents that were non-students, which was very useful in creating a dynamic discussion. Most of the questions were centered around how Journeyman operates and what their current projects consisted of. I think the discussion was important, because it allowed the audience to meet professionals in their own community who are doing projects similar to what If You Build It had depicted. Public Interest Design is steadily growing each year, with many companies devoting a portion of their time and profit towards improving communities in need all over the world. Journeyman International is working hard every day to put San Luis Obispo on the map as a leader in public interest design and community based architecture in an international capability. To learn more visit


Panel discussion followed by the film. Left to right: Matthew Linden, Daniel Wiens, Stephanie Fellows, and Andrew Goodwin.

+ M. Farid Shahid
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“…Lose Yourself In The Service of Others”




Our firm is dedicated to giving back to the communities in which we work, and we make sure our clients know that their projects help to make other humanitarian design work possible around the world. This past year ConsciousBuild, Inc made a significant difference for many non-profit and NGO’s around the world by donating 3.8% of our time to help provide design and consulting services pro bono. Many of our staff members even went above and beyond by helping outside of the office with organizations like Habitat for Humanity, Journeyman International, and Architecture for Humanity. Thank you ConsciousBuild Staff and ConsciousBuild Clients for making such a huge difference for thousands around the world! Here is a list of some of the projects that we donated our time towards in 2013:

1) Sunzu Village Library, Sunzu Village, Rwanda – Made possible by Private Donor

2) Ofelen Lakey Orphanage, Kenscoff, Haiti – Child Hope International

3) Kili Centre Orphanage, Tanzania – Kili Centre

4) RED Studio, San Luis Obispo (teaching and designing) – Journeyman International

“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”
Mahatma Gandhi 

+ Andrew C. Goodwin, AIA, LEED AP
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Biking To Work

How do you feel when you walk into work every morning? If you answered sluggish and grouchy, consider commuting to work via bicycle. I personally have been doing this about 3 to 5 days per week and it has made a significant impact on my day. My typical round trip commute to work is about four miles with many steep hills. By the time I arrive to work my blood is pumping and my sweat glands are crying.

The journey is so much more meaningful than being boxed inside a metal caged automobile. The slower pace and openness allows me to appreciate the city and its architecture while enjoying the cool morning breeze. I get to wave hello to gardeners, runners (& their dogs), and other fellow bicyclists. You can never end a bike ride with a frown on your face, unless you had fallen or gotten a flat tire.

Lastly, I want to share with you the huge financial benefits of biking to work. Since I made the switch I have only been using my car on the weekends. I found a great online tool that calculates how much money you can save by biking. Here are my numbers – they may be similar to yours!

Monthly Savings: $106.20

Annual Savings: $1274.40

Annual Greenhouse Gases NOT emitted: 295 lbs

+ M. Farid Shahid
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Bike Savings Calculator:


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Why buy second-hand furniture?

In San Luis Obispo, the month of June is unofficially Moving Month. Freshman are moving out of dorms, graduating seniors are giving away everything, and those who can’t stand their roommates are splitting their own separate ways. During this special month, Craigslist is on fire and a comfortable leather couch is a hot commodity!

Just last week I was in search for the perfect office chair for my new apartment. After looking at all the ritzy-glitzy options, I realized that it would cost me an arm and a leg; two things I just can’t get rid of yet! Therefore, my next option was to browse on Craigslist and compete with thousands of other savvy bargainers. As I was leisurely glancing through a dozen or so listings my heart fell in love with the one! It was definitely many years old and had a black leather backrest, black cloth seat, chrome base and frame, with dark stained walnut arm rests. I immediately emailed the owner and met with her the next day. As I arrived to the correct address, Richard and Annette (husband & wife) warmly greeted me. The chair belonged to Richard’s father who had recently passed away. He had a big influence in his life and this chair was in his office since the 1980′s.

The lesson I learned from this experience was that buying furniture this way can be so much more meaningful than to walk into a store and grab it off the shelf. Besides the significant financial benefits of buying used, I will never forget the stories that Richard told me about his father, and will remember him with every time I swivel.

+ M. Farid Shahid

antique chair

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The Importance of Local Produce

We are fortunate enough here at ConsciousBuild to be able to work right in the middle of Downtown, San Luis Obispo. Every Thursday evening from 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm our Downtown hosts an incredible farmer’s market. It occurs every week – year round, unless it is raining. Calling it a farmer’s market is probably doing them injustice, because it is so much more than a market. Every few blocks there are bands and performers playing, there are dozens of restaurants catering their best foods, many local businesses and organizations sharing their products and ideas with you, and to top it all off there are countless booths of local farmers selling fruits, vegetables, nuts, and more!

Here at the Central Coast we truly pride ourselves in local produce and local business. Lets go over two reasons why local produce is so vital in a community.

1. Local produce is fresher and more nutritious. When your produce doesn’t have to travel halfway across the country, farmers can select items based on flavor, not just shelf life. Also, many products at the farmer’s market don’t contain pesticides and preservatives for this very reason.

2. Local produce helps keep dollars in our community. I recently met a Cal Poly student studying agriculture while working at a local farm. Combining farm work and studying books was tough for him, but because of his job he was able to pay for most of his college education. When you buy from local businesses you help create and maintain jobs for those who live here.

Next time you are making your grocery list, skip that stressful drive to the grocery store. Instead, come relax at the Farmer’s Market and grab a bite to eat and all your produce, all while listening to some local jams.

+ M. Farid Shahid



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