PSU launches Center for Public Interest Design

Sergio Palleroni (middle, with students in India) will lead PSU's new Center for Public Interest Design.

Sergio Palleroni (middle, with students in India) will lead PSU's new Center for Public Interest Design.

Thanks to a $1.5 million anonymous gift, Portland State University’s School of Architecture is launching a new socially and environmentally driven design department.

The Center for Public Interest Design will study ways to make social, economic and environmental changes in disadvantaged communities throughout the world. The school said the Center is the first in the U.S. to focus on affordable and sustainable designs.

Sergio Palleroni, who worked on the architecture department's SAGE modular classrooms project, will lead the Center. Palleroni said there's a growing international movement in public interest design among architects and designers.

The anonymous donor pledged $1.5 million over five years, starting with $500,000 that the school received in December.

The Center's first five projects will include:

  • The design and construction of an orphanage and environmental-technical school in Titanyen, Haiti
  • Acollaboration with architecture faculty and students at Ecole Speciale d’Architecture in Paris
  • The SAGE classroom, which went on the market nationally in the last week.

Palleroni and his PSU colleagues Bryan Bell, David Perkes and Roberta Feldman had seeded the Center with $100,000 in grants they received in 2011. Assistant professors B.D. Wortham-Galvin and Margarette Leite, who also worked on the SAGE program, will contribute their expertise to the center.

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