Design Matters; You Matter

Blueprint for Better: Pittsburgh amplifies the value of architecture

By Amanda Markovic, AIA Posted on March 5, 2020

The built environment is not neutral. It either enables progress or obstructs it; contributes to wellbeing or disturbs it. Our region is experiencing the most development it has seen in decades with buildings that will be around for the next 40 to 120 years. Because development impacts people in our community today and for years to come, there is an urgency to be thoughtful and informed about what we are cementing into new places and spaces. And yet, we as a society and a region do not talk about how buildings impact human wellbeing.

Blueprint for Better: Pittsburgh (B4B) was developed to change that, and we are looking for more people (i.e. architects, designers of all kinds, neuroscientists, sociologists, EDAC experts) to join our initiative in 2020. According to Sarah Goldhagen, author of Welcome to Your World: How the Built Environment Shapes Our Lives, buildings and our physical surroundings play a more significant role in our lives than most people realize, even more significant than architects may know.

Started in 2019 by three architects and one AIA staff, B4B’s mission is to empower people to know what good design and development looks like and to ask for it.

B4B Pittsburgh’s goals are:

  • Inform and empower the public, community leaders, design and building professionals, developers and public agencies to be able to envision and advocate for a better built environment. 


  • Initiate a city-wide conversation about how buildings and spaces play a major role in achieving – or not – a healthy, livable and inclusive city and region.


  • Listen and learn from others about the obstacles to realizing such a vision and engage architects to help seek solutions.

To date, B4B Pittsburgh has held a roundtable discussion with key decision-makers – officials from City Council, the Forbes Fund, FOCUS, and the URA, among others – and developed a B4B video that was an AIA 2019 Film Challenge finalist. The reaction to all this has been an overwhelming: you must do more; no one else is talking about this.

So, let’s do more, together. We are looking for additional people to join our team to help develop presentations, dive deep into all the research on this topic and to help get the word out through various public speaking engagements. Quality design and architecture can help build a region that works for everyone. Our mission is to empower people with knowledge, so quality development happens with them, not to them, and so decision-makers are well informed about what is possible

To learn more or join the group, please contact:

Watch the full video:

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