Design for Freedom | Pilot Projects

Pilot Projects are the next step in the Design for Freedom movement.

As early adopters of Design for Freedom, Pilot Project teams accelerate the movement by raising awareness of the pressing humanitarian issue of forced labor in the building materials supply chain.

Together, Grace Farms Foundation and these Pilot Projects are modeling transparent and forced labor free supply chains and demonstrating design principles in action by creating a tangible example of a more humane built environment.

There are Pilot Projects in the U.S., the U.K., and India. Each of these projects is, or will be, open and accessible to the public.

Learn more about the Pilot Projects in this video “Reimagining Architecture | Design for Freedom.” 

Grace Farms has a full slate of Design for Freedom Pilot Projects, and will be announcing new ones at the 3rd Annual Design for Freedom Summit.

The 2024 Design for Freedom Pilot Projects RFP is closed to submission.

Pilot projects include:

The Grain Market, Jodhpur, India

This special collaboration with Design for Freedom is currently in design. Diana Kellogg, founder of her award-winning firm, is working with JDH Urban Regeneration Project, which is restoring the historic walled city of Jodhpur. Together, they will restore a historic grain market, transforming it into a world-class farmer’s market with dining. 

Photo courtesy of Unshattered

Unshattered’s Project Possibilities, Wappingers Falls, NY

This building will provide new spaces to support Unshattered’s community. Unshattered is a non-profit social enterprise which paves the road between recovery and long-term sobriety by creating opportunities for women overcoming addiction and trauma to develop economic independence. One of the most unique and innovative organizations in this sector, the adaptive reuse of Unshattered’s building, designed by MASS Design Group, will allow for the expansion of their mission to end the addiction relapse cycle.

Photo courtesy of Page

New building project designed by Page

A new building project designed by Page will incorporate the Design for Freedom process, and is the recipient of the firm’s 2022 Blue Oceans Grant, an internal competition. The three projects being considered are a federal building, a mixed-use development project, and a hospital.

The selected Design for Freedom Pilot Project will be announced shortly.

Black Chapel by Theaster Gates

(21st Serpentine Pavilion)

The Black Chapel by Theaster Gates, is the first international Design for Freedom by Grace Farms project. As Responsible Materials Advisor, Grace Farms worked with the Pavilion project team to enhance material transparency and prioritize ethical procurement. Read more in the Press Release.

Entitled Black Chapel, the 21st Serpentine Pavilion is designed by Chicago-based artist Theaster Gates.

The Serpentine Pavilion, at the Serpentine Galleries, which began in 2000 with Zaha Hadid, has been designed and built by some of the biggest names in international architecture. In recent years it has grown into a highly-anticipated showcase foremerging talents, from last year’s Sumayya Vally, Counterspace (South Africa), the youngest architect to be commissioned, and Frida Escobedo (Mexico), SANAA (Japan), Diebedo Francis, Kere (Burkina Faso), and BjarkeIngels (Denmark), whose 2016 Pavilion was the most visited architectural and design exhibition in the world. Learn More.

“It is an honour that Design for Freedom by Grace Farms is collaborating with Serpentine to assess ethical sourcing of the building materials for the 21st Serpentine Pavilion. This first completed international Design for Freedom project is accelerating the growing movement to eliminate forced labour from the building materials supply chain.” – Sharon Prince, CEO and Founder, Grace Farms Foundation.

Responsible Materials Advisor: In its role as Grace Farms worked with Serpentine and AECOM to trace several materials, including plywood and timber, steelwork, concrete, and the weatherproofing membrane. The team engaged with suppliers and manufacturers to trace and document these materials as far upstream in the supply chain as possible. Specifically, the project team was able to determine material sourcing as far back as Tier 4 suppliers and in some cases to the point of raw material extraction, thereby creating transparency and sourcing products that reduced the risk of forced and child labour in the construction of the Pavilion.

Read the Black Chapel Pilot Project Brief

Harriet Tubman Monument

The new Harriet Tubman Monument in Newark, NJ, designed by architect, artist, and United States Artists Fellow Nina Cooke John, opened to the public on March 9, 2023. The two-story monument, Shadow of a Face, encourages visitors to connect with Harriet Tubman, her story, and her extraordinary legacy.

Design for Freedom worked with Cooke John on the transparent sourcing of materials for the monument, demonstrating her commitment to design and build with materials that are free of forced labor.

Photo credit:

Top left: Harriet Tubman Monument, © Cesar Melgar, DreamPlay Media; Top Center and right: © Jacek Dolata.

Chelsea Thatcher, Creative Director & Chief Advancement Officer, Grace Farms Foundation, and Sunil Kant Munjal, Founder Patron of Serendipity Arts, announce a new Arts and Culture Center at the Design for Freedom Summit, March 2022

The Brij, New Delhi, India

Located on the site of a former quartzite quarry, the new cultural center offers facilities for the visual, performing, literary, and culinary arts as well as a new arts academy. The scheme, aiming to promote interactions between artists and audiences via an immersive environment, is designed by CRAB Studio and CP Kukreja Architects.  The project will include six curved “vessels” hovering above a waffle grid, reminiscent of historic Indian Charbagh gardens.  The vessels will house offices, residential facilities, galleries, teaching spaces, a library, museum, and theater.

“A new center for arts and culture will be designed for accessibility, inclusion, sustainability, fairness, and as a welcoming place to all. I want to compliment Sharon Prince and Grace Farms for setting up this Summit. In the arts and cultural center that Serendipity Arts is setting up in New Delhi, we are hoping to make this a model project, and we are delighted to partner with Grace Farms to turn this into a Design for Freedom Project,” said Sunil Kant Munjal, Founder Patron of Serendipity Arts.

Serendipity Arts is working with CRAB Studio and ARUP on the project.

New Canaan Library

The New Canaan Library, in New Canaan, CT, is the first Design for Freedom building project in the U.S. 

Design for Freedom partnered with New Canaan Library on a new state-of-the-art knowledge and learning center, to explore and pursue the use of low-risk materials – materials less likely to be sourced through forced labor – during the building’s construction.

Throughout the process, Design for Freedom collaborated with Centerbrook Architects, Turner Construction, and 21 subcontractors to trace raw and composite (engineered from two or more materials) building materials as far as possible within the supply chain. The new library project opened on February 14, 2023. 

Much like Grace Farms, libraries bring communities together and disseminate knowledge, resources, and stimulate conversation.  Grace Farms and the Library’s collective commitment and shared work will provide key data and research that advances the movement and serves as a replicable example of what is possible when transparency is brought to the global building materials supply chain.

Temporal Shift Sculpture shown at Grace Farms, by artist Alyson Shotz | Photo by: Melanie Lust

Temporal Shift by Alyson Shotz

Temporal Shift by Alyson Shotz is a site-responsive sculpture that was at Grace Farms through October 2022. Temporal Shift interacted with natural light and animated an interior courtyard of the SANAA-designed River building at Grace Farms, describing time as the seasons change. When fabricating and installing the work in summer 2021, Grace Farms was presented with the opportunity to align the process of bringing this exciting work to the public with the ever-expanding framework of analysis, inquiry, and collaboration demonstrated by Design for Freedom.

Grace Farms Foundation worked with Design for Freedom Working Group members Joe Mizzi and Jay Gorman from Sciame to trace the stainless steel and concrete used in Temporal Shift to ascertain sources and labor inputs. 

The process of applying an ethical framework to the sourcing of materials for the sculpture installation made clear that ethical sourcing is possible and 100% of the steel and concrete used in Temporal Shift was ethically sourced.