The Institute for Public Architecture (IPA) promotes socially engaged architecture through urban research projects and a biennial residency program for design practitioners. By supporting architects and allied professionals working in the public interest, the IPA strives to improve our public realm.


We envision a world where architects and allied professionals have the resources and support they need to create excellent work in the public interest and to contribute to the high quality design of the public realm.

  1. We believe that supporting and elevating the profile of architects working in the public interest is the first step to creating better design for traditionally underserved populations.
  2. We believe that a vibrant network of ‘activist’ architects is critical to the improvement of design in the public realm.
  3. We believe that high quality design in the public realm is critical to the production of socially equitable environments.

Founder's Statement

From IPA founder Jonathan Kirschenfeld, architect of the Floating Pool, several New York City supportive housing developments, and other socially conscious projects:

Wanting to make meaningful civic contributions through architecture, I embarked in the mid-1990s on a quest to create low-income housing and urban projects for not-for-profit clients with miniscule budgets, supporting underserved populations. Embedded in housing is social engagement. I have taken great pride in serving typically-forgotten clients and making contributions to the design of the public realm. There were times, however, when I was ready to throw in the towel, when my sense of isolation from the profession itself was painfully real and when the idea of creating luxury buildings, with a decent salary, was very appealing. What I did not have through these years, and what I would like now to help create, is a community of like-minded design practitioners working towards the diverse but common goal of  high quality public architecture.

Jonathan Kirschenfeld