Did anyone have a better time at our Gala than Mass Design Group's Michael Murphy and Alan Ricks? "This is blowing my mind," said Murphy, surveying the crowd before going on stage to accept Architizer's Do Good Award with his partner, Ricks. What was he planning on doing to celebrate after the ceremony? "Eating some more appetizers!"
All joking aside, Murphy and Ricks do serious work. Really serious work. They've built recycling centers in storm-ravaged Haiti, a primary school in Rwanda, and a hospital in the Rwandan town of Burera--a region that had previously lacked access to a single doctor (the hospital won an A+ Award). As Neil Blumenthal, co-principal of do-good glasses company Warby Parker, said as he handed Murphy and Ricks their statuette, "Mass Design Group isn’t winning this award just because they design beautiful buildings, it is how they do it."
Butaro Hospital. Photos: Iwan Baan
Indeed, for their award-winning Butaro Hospital, Mass Design teamed up with nonprofit health care organization Partners in Health. In the process, local construction workers learned a new masonry technique using an untapped resource: volcanic rock, previously considered a nuisance in the area. Moreover, the hospital’s construction created 2,000 jobs. As Blumenthal said, "They partner with the end-users themselves—people in rural Haiti and Africa."
"We're in architecture to have a positive effect on the world," said the duo in their acceptance speech. Here's hoping many more firms follow in their footsteps.