When the Indian Ocean tsunami struck off the coast of Sumatra Island Indonesia in late 2004, a group of architects and designers in Seattle responded. Recognizing the role that architects, engineers, and planners could play in supporting recovery/rebuilding efforts, this group was called to volunteer their expertise and sought community support to visit impacted areas and apply their skills as needed. In 2006, inspired by their impact, Architects Without Borders Seattle's original group of volunteers founded AWBS as a 501(c)(3) non-profit to provide pro bono services to communities in need, including communities in the Puget Sound area.
Since then, AWBS has continued to expand its services to serve organizations and communities who would otherwise lack access to architecture and engineering related services internationally as well as here in the Puget Sound area.
Architects Without Borders-Seattle is a standalone organization and therefore defines its own mission and direction. However, AWBS has supported the development of other nonprofit design entities, including Architects Without Borders-Oregon and Architects Without Borders-Austin.
Architects Without Borders Seattle facilitates the advancement of appropriate built solutions that have positive impact
At AWBS we believe in architecture’s ability to improve the environment, to address community needs, and to enhance quality of life. But there are non-profit organizations and communities that do not have immediate access to the services that architecture can bring. Before a built project can be realized and before funding can be secured, there is often pre-work that requires professional expertise and assessment. For design projects there are documents, plans, and budgets that must be prepared and presented. Without access to these vital resources, many projects never happen. AWBS bridges this gap by providing pro bono services and expertise, ensuring that each project has local collaboration, technical support, and alignment with the needs of the community.
Our volunteers partner with their clients in a collaborative problem-solving process. AWBS works with local community champions and user groups to understand the impact of the work and assure appropriateness in its context.
Architects Without Borders Seattle supports architects and related consultants and does not take work from local professionals.