Cooper Hewitt exhibition shows socially responsible American design
Edcouch-Elsa ISD Fine Arts Center by Kell Muñoz Architects
Edcouch-Elsa ISD Fine Arts Center by Kell Muñoz Architects. Photograph by Chris Cooper

Socially responsible design in America presented in Cooper Hewitt exhibition

Design solutions for a wide range of social concerns, from rapid-recovery housing to drinking water access for migrants, are featured in a new show at the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum in New York.

The exhibition, By The People: Designing for a Better America, features 60 projects from every region across the USA.

Cooper Hewitt: By the People
By the People: Designing a Better America is the Cooper Hewitt's third exhibition about socially responsible design

It is the third show in a series at Copper Hewitt focused on socially responsible design.

The first, Design for the Other 90%, was presented in 2007, and the second, Design with the Other 90%: Cities, was staged in 2011.

Cooper Hewitt: By the People
The exhibition is divided into six themes: Act, Save, Share, Live, Learn and Make

The new exhibition showcases design solutions for a wide range of issues, from access to food and water to improving housing conditions. Some projects are located in urban and suburban settings, while others were conceived for rural contexts.

The show was organised by Cynthia Smith, the museum’s curator of socially responsible design, who travelled around the country to find design solutions that fostered equitable and sustainable communities.

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Featured projects include the Crest Apartments by Michael Maltzan Architecture and SWA Group

"Smith conducted more than two years of field research – travelling to shrinking post-industrial cities, sprawling metro regions, struggling rural towns, along border regions, areas impacted by natural and man-made disaster and places of persistent poverty," the museum stated.

Cooper Hewitt: By the People
Cross-Border Community Station designed by Estudio Teddy Cruz + Forman in collaboration with the University of California, San Diego

New York-based Moorhead + Moorhead designed the exhibition, and Tsang Seymour – also in New York – created the graphics.

The exhibition is divided into six themes: Act, Save, Share, Live, Learn and Make.

Cooper Hewitt: By the People
HOK's Harlem Hospital Pavilion Facade features a mural influenced by the neighbourhood's history

The Save portion presents work that builds on "existing assets" in the cultural, natural and built environments.

Projects include the Harlem Hospital Pavilion Facade by HOK, which consists of a colourful mural inspired by the iconic New York neighbourhood's history and culture.

Cooper Hewitt: By the People
The Belt Line Atlanta Concept aims to transform disused rail lines into a park

Also on view is the Belt Line Atlanta Concept, a grassroots effort to transform old rail lines into a 22-mile (35-kilometre) green loop with trails and park space.

Cooper Hewitt: By the People
Las Abuelitas Kinship housing by Poster Frost Mirto was designed for low-income residents

The Share section features spaces and buildings that encourage interaction and exchange.

Projects include the Las Abuelitas Kinship Housing, an affordable complex in Arizona by architecture firm Poster Frost Mirto. It was designed for low-income residents who are raising grandchildren.

Cooper Hewitt: By the People
These water stations by Humane Borders are positioned along the US-Mexico border

Projects in the Live section are centred around improving access to healthcare, food and clean water.

Featured work includes water stations by the nonprofit organisation Humane Borders, which is situated along the US and Mexico border.

Cooper Hewitt: By the People
Growing Power's Fresh Moves Produce Bus initiative transforms buses into food stands

Also on view is the Fresh Moves Produce Bus initiative, which involves converting old city buses in Chicago into produce stands.

Conceived by the nonprofit group Growing Power, the mobile markets travel to areas with limited access to fresh fruits and vegetables.

Cooper Hewitt: By the People
The Francis Gregory library by Adjaye Associates is located in a historically underserved area of DC

The Learn section showcases projects that provide access to knowledge, in turn strengthening communities.

Work includes neighbourhood libraries in Washington DC, like one by David Adjaye, that have been constructed in historically underserved neighbourhoods.

Cooper Hewitt: By the People
Rapido Rapid Recovery housing by bcWorkshop can be quickly erected and expanded

The Make section presents strategies related to the creative and manufacturing industries, such as Rapido, a system for rapid recovery housing in Texas.

The design – by bcWorkshop – consists of a 400-square-foot (37-square-metre) core unit that can be quickly erected and expanded in the future as needed.

Cooper Hewitt: By the People
Pyatt Studio and BNIM's Thunder Valley Regenerative Plan aims to reinvigorate an Indian reservation in South Dakota

The section also features the Thunder Valley Regenerative Plan by architecture firms Pyatt Studio and BNIM, which is a comprehensive design strategy for the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota.

By The People: Designing for a Better America is on show until 26 February 2017. The museum is hosting a series of related events, including lectures on affordable housing and resilient design.

More images

Cooper Hewitt: By the People
Evergreen Cooperatives by Ohio Employee Ownership Center, Democracy Collaborative and Cleveland Foundation
Cooper Hewitt: By the People
Superuse Pavilion by Hans Herrmann, Cory Gallo and students from Mississippi State University
Cooper Hewitt: By the People
La Valentina Station by David Baker Architects