When we hear about paradigm shifts, they’re often described as happening to us. Able City was formed around the principle of shared value — the idea that for architecture to remain relevant, it must actively build for reasons beyond profit. In 2021, the firm started a process of defining and installing 30 metric-driven commitments aligned with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, integrating universal frameworks for advancing health, safety, and general welfare into its calendar, policies, spec libraries, payscales, lunch n’ learns, etc.
This course is lessons-learned, providing a template for SDG-aligned pledges where architecture and interior design firms of any size can not only keep up with change, but lead it.
Diana Pena, founding partner of Able City, is an accredited member of the Congress for the New Urbanism and managed Hickey Pena Architects for 10 years. She was born and raised along the border in Laredo, Texas and currently lives in San Antonio. Growing up with a bicultural lens, her interests led her to major in Foreign Policy and Public Administration. Diana’s many years helping people experiencing homelessness through her work on the board of Bethany House (an agency providing shelter/meals for community members in need) has deepened her interests in public policy, social equity, urban design, and exploring the relationships between the built environment and mental health.
Elizabeth (Frani) O’Toole found her way to architecture through an artists collective rehabilitating abandoned sites while on a Fulbright scholarship to Cork, Ireland. A graduate of Yale University in the creative writing program, she is glad to put language to the work of supporting the community-focused work of Able City.
In joining the Change by Design series, you’ll be exposed to new points of view, have the opportunity to develop your own vision for your work, and get inspiration and practical tips for how to act on that vision.
Browse our entire series lineup or look at some recommendations below.
Large-scale changes all start small. Yet, little by little, it all contributes to building the world we want to live in. It starts with a simple conversation. Our Change by Design series is that conversation starter.
Join our series of monthly 1-hour sessions curated to bring you innovative ideas from world-leading practitioners. We invite you to make a difference - locally and globally - one conversation and project at a time.
Need more motivation? Read our Change by Design inspiration post.