As the economic climate in the design industry begins to slowly try and get on an even keel, there’s a sector that has continued to expand its reach internationally while also focusing more on communities here in the United States.

Pro bono healthcare design projects have held a steady interest from volunteers, giving nonprofit organizations the opportunity to collaborate with designers. It gives architecture firms the chance to have a close client relationship, greater latitude for decision-making, and to make a contribution for the public good.

Matching nonprofit organizations with architecture firms that are willing to take on such work was always a bit of a shot in the dark, however, there are quite a few programs that are working to make sure nonprofit clients connect with the right architects.

For example, The 1%, a program of Public Architecture which is based in San Francisco, promotes pro bono service in the design and architecture professions by encouraging professionals to give one percent of their time. There are many more programs driving the message of using the built environment as a tool for social progress to help improve the lives of everyone in the community especially the poorest and underserved.

Locally, healthcare design projects as yet do not feature as prominently as residential and educational projects but there are some great developments taking place that help young designers gain experience and allow experienced healthcare architects to expand their skills and tap even further into the humanitarian aspects of the industry. The Public Policy Lab, a nonprofit organization, bridges policy and design by engaging in research to improve the delivery of public services in healthcare and many other programs. The group’s mission is to single out best practices from the design profession that can bring value to the public sector.

Check out this four-part series by Chris Sciarrone, an associate with Perkins+Will, which focuses on many of the issues surrounding pro bono design in healthcare design.