Today, the Architecture for Humanity (AFH) Board of Directors released its first official statement since news broke on Jan. 16 that the San Francisco–based non-profit organization was filing for bankruptcy after 15 years in operation. Although the organization had laid off all staff members and stopped accepting donations on Jan. 1, the initial announcement of AFH’s closing came as a shock to many, including AFH co-founder Cameron Sinclair, who said he heard the news on Jan. 15 from a reporter.
Though the non-profit organization is closing due to a lack of funding, chapters around the world have vowed to stay active and continue their mission.
Here is the AFH Board of Directors’ official statement.
January 22, 2015
Statement: From Board of Directors, Architecture for Humanity
It is with great regret that we announce that Architecture for Humanity, LLC will be filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. The Board expects that the bankruptcy will be filed within the next two weeks. This decision was made after serious consideration and review of all options. All staff was laid off as of January 1, 2015 and the physical office in San Francisco has been closed. As of January 1, 2015, the organization also stopped accepting donations. It is important to distinguish that while Architecture for Humanity as a 501c3 company is filing for bankruptcy, many of the international chapters of Architecture for Humanity, while they share a common name, are separate legal entities and will continue their work without pause. Additionally, the U.S. based chapters of Architecture for Humanity are managed by all volunteer directors, and those directors have vowed to continue the work of the organization, though it may be under a different name. It is a testament to what Architecture for Humanity has meant to the profession that the work will continue.
Architecture for Humanity has had incredible partners and funders that made our work possible over the last 15 years but, like many charity organizations, we have had serious funding challenges. Our leadership worked to overcome the funding gaps to the best of their ability, but the deficit combined with budget overruns and an overall decrease in donations finally became an insurmountable situation.
Even with this sad news, it is important to remember what the thousands of Architecture for Humanity volunteers and staff accomplished and inspired over the last 15 years. In 2006, the TED Prize was given in recognition of this work and spawned the Open Architecture Network, a platform that allowed a community to be born surrounding open source design and connected the world of humanitarian design globally in the digital space like no one had done before. Architecture for Humanity has provided important public interest design services to communities with critical needs across the globe, including post-disaster reconstruction in the United States, Haiti, the Philippines, South Africa, and Japan. We encourage everyone to take a look at the incredible work that has been done. “Design Like You Give A Damn”, a phrase coined by co-founder Cameron Sinclair, became a motto and transformed into an annual conference and two published books showcasing public interest design. Further, this motto became a part of architecture as a profession. In many ways, Architecture for Humanity helped to begin the humanitarian design movement. We now look to chapter members, volunteers, former staff, and the profession at large to lead the way.
The Board will continue to share any new updates with you via the Architecture for Humanity website.
We are extremely proud that Architecture for Humanity has been able to positively impact millions of lives through the power of design. We humbly thank you for all of your support.
Architecture For Humanity
For more information on AFH's filing for bankruptcy, check out Nate Berg's piece on organization's financial troubles and its future.