My friend Cameron Sinclar was one of the receipients of the TED Prize last year for his work on Architecture for Humanity, a network of architects around the world dedicated to sharing innovative designs for the benefit of the poor and displaced. The Prize and the help of companies like Sun have let Architecture for Humanity launch a remarkable website where architects can post and share their designs under open source licenses.
Yesterday afternoon, Dan Shine, the director of AMD’s 50×15 initiative – which aims to put computers in the hands of half the world’s population by 2015 – announced a new architecture prize. In conjunction with Architecture for Humanity, AMD will give a $250,000 prize for the best open source design of a community technology center. The prize doesn’t go to the architect, but funds the building of the center – AMD will also donate the technology to wire and connect the center to the Internet.
Cameron tells me that the building designed doesn’t need to function solely as a technology center – it can be whatever a community most needs, like a health and technology center, or a school that incorporates a technology component. The winning center’s design will also be shared, so that other communities can build local versions of the building if it meets their needs.
Smart and creative as Cameron is, it’s hard to imagine his hard work leading to the largest architecture prize in the world in just a single year without the resources of the TED community. I wish I believed that the TED community was going to have as transformative an effect on the Clinton Global Initiative or EO Wilson’s Encyclopedia of Life.