Hurricane Katrina struck just as I had begun my last year in architectural school at Tulane in New Orleans. Charity Hospital had served impoverished New Orleans residents for more than 80 years. It was first built in the 1920s with fully operable windows, but when the hospital underwent mechanical system retrofitting years ago, the windows were sealed shut. A mechanical ventilation system was substituted for fresh air. The system failed during the storm, internal temperatures rose to over 100 degrees, and the building was subsequently evacuated. Taking more than 1,000 lives and forever changing the city, the hurricane profoundly demonstrated how fragile our healthcare buildings are.
From a story about Occupy Design's infographic kits to a challenge asking readers to redesign the report card, GOOD features designers using their talents to improve their communities almost every day. But the triumph of solving a social challenge often comes at great cost: Most of this work is done without pay and during overtime hours, which can strain a designer's business. "Designers say, 'I'll take my own time and my own resources and try and solve a problem alone,'" says Manuel Toscano, principal of the corporate identity firm Zago. "That's wrong."