The Driehaus Foundation believes that good architecture and design lead to strong and vibrant communities where people can live, work, and thrive. Good design takes many forms; it is always responsive to its surroundings, both natural and constructed, and the people who will use it. The practice of good design recognizes and enhances an existing, historic building or place. With these qualities of good design in mind, the foundation’s Built Environment funding supports work that advances public awareness in three areas: historic preservation, public interest design, and open space.
Historic buildings and spaces can be anchors in a community, sources of beauty and pride, and opportunities to reflect on America’s complex history. The foundation supports organizations that recognize these layers of value and engage a diverse public in an ongoing conversation about the methods, meaning, and impact of historic preservation. Our grantees range from established, statewide organizations to smaller advocacy groups. The Foundation’s strategies are to encourage public awareness through competitions, exhibitions, journals, and books; support advocacy organizations to promote effective policies; and convey the skills of preservation to organizations and individuals from other fields. We are particularly interested in how preservation techniques can help preserve affordable housing and maintain the character of changing neighborhoods.
Public Interest Design:
To succeed on multiple levels, design must be an expression of a collaborative process in which learning flows in both directions, from the community to design professionals and back again. Good design can change lives, but only if the design process reflects the wisdom and experiences of the designer, the client, and the surrounding community. The foundation supports organizations that share this view and encourages grantees to view community as a creative resource. An embrace of this collaborative process is what distinguishes successful designers and organizations from those that will settle for a space that may seem workable for the moment, but neglects the patterns of community life and fails in the long run. The Foundation’s strategies include: as the movement for public interest design grows, supporting influential thinkers; sponsoring awards, charettes and competitions to increase and deepen public awareness and to bring constituencies together; and helping community-based efforts to improve neighborhoods.
Open spaces – from pocket parks to wilderness – help people connect to the land and the beauty within it. Natural places are part of the patchwork of urban living, offering spaces for recreation, relaxation, and remembrance. Even the smallest open space contributes to the vitality of its surroundings. Landscape design, which influences how we see and move through the built environment, has become a particular interest of our board. The foundation supports work that raises awareness of and advocates for the importance of open spaces as a component of the built environment.