No, not that one percent. Not even close. In fact, quite the opposite.

Beautifully executed design shouldn’t be limited to tech start ups, trading firms, and luxury hotels. And, thankfully, it’s not. With programs like Public Architecture’s The 1%, public spaces that serve our communities can get in on the Frank Gehry action at a pro bono rate. Well, maybe not Frank Gehry but close.

Through The 1% program, nonprofits are connected to architecture and design firms willing to commit a minimum of one percent billable hours each year to create the spaces these organizations deserve. This year marks IIDA’s first year partnering with Public Architecture in support of The 1%, and we are proud to share with you the first case study in an ongoing series that highlights the work IIDA Members have done through the program.


Thanks to HOK Impact, a firm-wide program that seeks to positively impact and empower communities through pro bono design, HOK Los Angeles was able to create a reimagined Youth Center on Highland Avenue for the Los Angeles Gay & Lesbian Center, a nonprofit dedicated to supporting the LGBT community through multiple programs and initiatives. The Center had outgrown their Youth Drop-In Center and needed an efficient and energetic space targeted to providing foster care services for L.A.’s underserved LGBT youth.



The result? Colorful. The Center couldn’t afford upgraded finishes and sculptural elements so the design team turned to energetic and vibrant colors to create a hopeful space. “[The Youth Drop-In Center] isn’t a depressing place anymore; it is a place where our young clients are looking to their futures,” said Kathy Ketchum, chief administrative officer of the Center.

View the Youth Center on Highland project for yourself and get inspired. Hey – Mr. Gehry, are you listening?

Header image and project photos via; case study cover image via.


There are the songs we associate with first loves, the songs we connect with our childhood, and the songs that remind us of the moments in our lives we thought we forgot. And then there the songs that take us somewhere – literally.

The Foo Fighters’ Sonic Highways contains those songs. The album is a music travelogue that follows the Foo Fighters as they wrote and recorded their eighth studio album in eight famed recording studios in eight cities across the United States: Austin, Chicago, Los Angeles, Nashville, New Orleans, New York, Seattle, and Washington, D.C. Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl directed a companion piece leading to the record’s November 10th release, a documentary series of the same name that recorded the band’s experiences in each city and featured interviews with local music legends.

Grohl has described his Sonic Highways project as a “love letter to the history of American music.” It was birthed from a concept reflective of place, something Grohl sought to capture not just by recording in iconic studios but by waiting to write the lyrics to each song after experiencing each city and interviewing its people. Sonic Highways, at its heart, is about grounding the music in its surroundings.

Musicians using the built-in environment to inform their music isn’t new. “Songbird,” from Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours, was recorded in Zellerbach Auditorium on the UC Berkeley Campus to evoke a concert hall ambiance. And Kanye West has said that architecture inspired the less bass heavy, ”simple” songs on Yeezus. In an interview with the New York Times, West said, “I would go see actual Corbusier homes in real life and just talk about, you know, why did they design it? They did like, the biggest glass panes that had ever been done. Like I say, I’m a minimalist in a rapper’s body.”

What are the songs that take you somewhere? What are the songs that inspire the places you are designing?

Image courtesy of BBCW