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Karsh Institute Selected as Design for Freedom Pilot Project

In an inspiring commitment to social responsibility and ethical building practices, the Karsh Institute of Democracy has been selected as a Design for Freedom Pilot Project. This initiative underscores the Institute’s commitment to embodying the principles of democracy, both in thought and infrastructure.

The selection was announced at the third annual Design for Freedom Summit, hosted by Grace Farms, which saw over 550 leaders and 75 students from across the globe come together to address the critical issue of forced labor in the building materials industry. Grace Farms CEO and Founder, Sharon Prince, emphasized the moral and ethical obligations society holds to end these human rights violations, which undercut the integrity of construction projects worldwide.

At the heart of the University of Virginia's Emmet-Ivy Corridor, the Karsh Institute of Democracy is envisioned as a dynamic educational ecosystem dedicated to fostering scholarship, dialogue, and the principles of democracy. Its design and construction are emblematic of the commitment to not only advance democratic ideals but also to uphold the highest standards of ethical building practices.

The Institute’s selection as a Pilot Project reflects a shared vision towards a future where construction practices - from the material sourcing to labor – are grounded in justice and equity. This vision aligns with Grace Farms Foundation's mission to model more humane building practices and inspire industry-wide change. As we face the stark reality of forced labor in our supply chains, initiatives like Design for Freedom not only challenge us to verify the integrity of our materials but also inspire a wave of change across industries. The Karsh Institute exemplifies change, marrying the pursuit of knowledge with the foundational values of human dignity and fairness.

“To value each element of the exhibit design started a chain of care that goes beyond the building material chain of custody. It models to the next person, to all of us, that the choices we make matter.”


Chelsea Thatcher, Chief Strategy Officer and Founding Creative Director of Grace Farms Foundation

As part of a growing network of Pilot Projects, the Karsh Institute of Democracy will serve as a tangible example of how the architecture and construction communities can come together to create spaces that are not only inspiring but also ethically constructed. This project, designed by Höweler + Yoon with Hanbury, not only champions the principles of democracy but also paves the way for a future where every construction decision prioritizes fairness and integrity.


Read more about the Design for Freedom Pilot Projects here.

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