The movement

A radical paradigm shift driven by global leaders in the built environment

Launched by Sharon Prince, CEO and Founder of Grace Farms Foundation and the late Bill Menking, Editor-in-Chief of The Architect’s Newspaper, the Design for Freedom Working Group includes an expanding group of more than 100 experts and leaders that have committed their expertise and wherewithal to eliminate modern slavery in the built environment.

Impact timeline

Our work to illuminate and change the pernicious stream of modern slavery within the built environment, within one of the largest global industries.

Accelerating the Movement

The 21st Serpentine Pavilion, designed by Theaster Gates, with architectural support by David Adjaye and Associates, opens in London. The Pavilion is the first completed international Design for Freedom Pilot Project.

Design for Freedom and Earth Equity convene the first ever Landscapes Forum. This full-day event featuring panels, tours, guided walks, lunch and breakout discussions with tools to create biodiversity positive, nature-based solutions in our landscapes, installed with sustainable materials free of forced labor.

Grace Farms convenes the first-ever Design for Freedom Summit to bring together a committed community of leaders from the ecosystem of the built environment to remove forced labor from the global materials supply chain. Featuring keynotes by Prince Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein and Sharon Prince, the Summit raises awareness and creates institutional responses by exploring corporate ethical responsibility and the government policies that impact forced labor in the global building materials supply chain and innovative approaches to addressing this issue.

Five Design for Freedom Pilot Projects are announced in the U.S., U.K., and India, including the 21st Serpentine Pavilion in London, a new center for arts and culture with Serendipity Arts in New Delhi, India, the Harriet Tubman Monument in Newark, NJ, the New Canaan Library in CT, and Alyson Shotz’s Temporal Shift which was on view at Grace Farms. Each of these projects is open and accessible to the public.

The Design for Freedom movement continues to accelerate. In London,  Sharon Prince presents  Design for Freedom at Arup, a world leader in the design industry. More than 100 people from Arup and other companies joins the meeting, which focuses on ethical and sustainable practices in materials selection within supply chains. This new Design for Freedom Working Group initiative is a new outcome of our work.

To continue to raise awareness internationally, Design for Freedom holds Ethical Action meetings in New Delhi (India) and in London, convening members of the community around the Design for Freedom movement. Sharon Prince presents to hundreds at Theaster Gates’ Black Chapel in London, as well as in New Delhi.

Sharon Prince (virtually) attends the UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP27) held in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, with Anna Dyson, a member of Grace Farms’ Design for Freedom Working Group and the Hines Professor of Architecture at the Yale Schools of Architecture and Environment. On November 11, they participate on a panel discussion on the potential of the buildings and building materials for a climate neutral world.

The Global Alliance for Buildings and Construction (GlobalABC), a leading global platform for governments, the private sector, civil society, and intergovernmental and international organizations, release highlights from its flagship materials report during COP27. Both Dyson and Prince are Advisors on  GlobalABC’s Advisory Group that is comprised of more than 250 leaders from 37 countries. The organization’s goal is to increase action towards a zero-emission, efficient and resilient buildings and construction sector.

Sharon Prince participates and presents in two Turner Construction Company Summits. Turner, a member of the Design for Freedom Working Group, has long been recognized as a leader in the delivery of green building projects that achieve environmental sustainability goals across multiple rating systems. These presentations to industry leaders expands Design for Freedom’s reach.

Design for Freedom is represented at Greenbuild International Conference + Expo, in San Francisco, which brings together global AEC leaders to reimagine what is means to build green and advance sustainable solutions.


Advancing sustainability

Welcomed Grace Farms’ first-ever Sustainable Materials Director Nora Rizzo, one of the first Ambassadors in the world to be accredited by the International Living Future Institute.

In October, we began hosting a Design for Freedom & Sustainable Materials Tour of the River building led by Nora Rizzo.

Grace Farms worked with City Bench to design ethically produced trophies made from felled urban trees as the Trophy Sponsor for this year’s Connecticut Green Building Council awards.

Design for Freedom

The Design for Freedom Face Mask, designed by Design for Freedom Working Group Members Shohei Yoshida and Peter Miller, was longlisted in the wearable design category of the Dezeen Awards 2021.

Sharon Prince and Working Group members present to a range of industry professionals and organizations locally and nationally: including the Construction Specifier Institute, the Northeast Summit for a Sustainable Built Environment, and the Center for Innovation in Design and Construction.

We also presented at conferences nationwide such as the American Institute of Architects A’21 Conference and USGBC’s Greenbuild.

Sharon Prince and the Design for Freedom movement was featured in publications including Forbes, Fast Company, The Architect’s Newspaper, Metropolis, Brick & Wonder, Common Edge, Madame Architect, and the US Modernist podcast.

Partnerships with major colleges and universities continue with presentations to Cornell University, the University of Pennsylvania, the Illinois Institute for Technology, Yale University and the University of Michigan.

Common Good Through Crisis

A fall exhibition created by Design for Freedom Working Group members at MASS Design Group and Pentagram, spotlights the stories behind Grace Farms’ humanitarian impact during the COVID-19 pandemic. Responding to the soaring need for PPE and food, hundred of thousands of wholesome meals were donated to communities and the Foundation sourced and donated 2.1 million PPE to frontline workers closing a state-wide gap, with the help of local and global partners. Our CEO and Founder also partnered with artist Carrie Mae Weems on her national artist-driven public awareness campaign to respond to the urgent need for PPE in Native communities.

Grace Farms reopens

Grace Farms reopens in September with Temporal Shift, a sculpture by artist Alyson Shotz, as part of the Arts Initiative’s interdisciplinary study of time. Forced labor-free steel and concrete were used in this project, providing an opportunity to explore the complexity of material sourcing.

Created new daily programming for visitors at Grace Farms to educate the public about Design for Freedom and the ongoing humanitarian work of the Foundation.

Partnerships with major colleges and universities continue

with presentations to Cornell University and the University of Pennsylvania.

Sharon Prince and Working Group members present to a range of industry professionals and organizations locally and nationally

including the Construction Specifier Institute, the Northeast Summit for a Sustainable Built Environment and the Center for Innovation in Design and Construction.


Strengthening Partnerships and Widening Our Reach

Once you know: digital awareness campaign begins

12-month Design for Freedom digital campaign to spread awareness

Collaboration leads to new face mask

Ethically-produced face masks are designed pro bono by Grace Farms project architects Shohei Yoshida and Peter Miller. Herman Miller retails the masks with proceeds supporting the Design for Freedom movement through Design Within Reach.

New branding and website launch is launched to formalize the movement, designed pro bono by GoodFolk.

First full-semester class and visiting lecture series at distinguished universities

Design for Freedom Working Group members who are also faculty initiate a class at Yale School of Architecture and visiting lecture series at Cooper Union, Pratt Institute, Parsons, and more.

Working Group Members inspire their firms

— Design for Freedom Working Group meetings formalize action groups, and members begin to propose changes in their own firms and a means to build awareness.
— Executive presentation at COOKFOX Architects

Movement among industry leaders accelerates

New publicly accessible resources and advocacy efforts are launched to galvanize key stakeholders


Public launch addresses institutional obligation and commitment

This media recognition of the issue and the leaders addressing it are shortly followed by first-of-its-kind presentations and events at:
— International Association for Bridge and Structural Engineering Congress (IABSE)
— Top1000Funds Fiduciary Investors Symposium
— Urban Thinkers Campus, an initiative of the UN-Habitat’s World Urban Campaign
— Grace Farms, first U.S. public program discussing forced labor in building materials supply chains

Generating Awareness with the Next Generation of Influencers

Design for Freedom Working Group members that are also faculty and administrators from leading undergraduate and graduate programs are an integral part of the solution. We are seeing universities working to incorporate anti-slavery education into the curriculum and hope to drive the research agenda for the coming years.

Recognizing that lasting change will be driven by generations to come, Sharon Prince and members of the Working Group have organized a series of symposia, lectures, and classes at prominent architecture schools, colleges, and universities. Since 2019 and continuing over the course of the next year, members of the Working Group will speak with students at Cooper Union, IE (Madrid), Illinois Institute of Technology, Parsons, Pratt Institute, Princeton, and Yale.

Expanding awareness locally and globally

The Design for Freedom Working Group is announced in The Architect’s Newspaper, Architectural Record, and other industry media.

New York AIA and Center for Architecture leadership raise the building materials supply chain flag, making space for Working Group meetings and spotlight for 1,000 members


January 2020 meeting

AIA NY | Center for Architecture

September 2019 meeting


May 2019 meeting

Grace Farms

Grace Farms has served as a constant gathering space for Working Group members since 2018

Rogers Partners Architects+Urban Designers

Welcomes first Working Group meeting in September 2018


Off-site Meetings

Meetings are held in architecture spaces that inspire action and collaboration


Design for Freedom Working Group launches


The Movement Begins with a Question

Sharon Prince, Grace Farms Foundation, asked Bill Menking, founder of The Architect’s Newspaper, why forced labor in the building materials supply chain was not on the industry’s agenda. That inquiry would launch a convening of leaders in the built environment to take action.