November 4, 2015

Ellen Mitchell Kozack, AIA, LEED AP BD+C, NCARB, vice president and director of sustainability at HKS, gave a talk at 2015 SXSW Eco, a conference that celebrates the power of design, technology and business to drive global change. SXSW Eco was held October 5-7 at the Austin Convention Center in Austin, Texas.

Mitchell Kozack and urban designer Samantha Whitney Schwarze, of Overland Partners in San Antonio, co-presented a session on “What Impact Design Can Teach Corporations About Creativity.” Watch Mitchell Kozack’s presentation here.

According to Mitchell Kozack, there is tangible evidence of communities that transform as a result of a design firm doing a pro bono or public interest design (PID) project. “This work can be life-changing for the people whose lives it directly impacts. On the flip side, our session examined PID from the design firm’s perspective – what we gain and how we learn and grow as a result of this work,” Mitchell Kozack said. “How do companies, and designers themselves, benefit from doing work that leverages their skills to make a positive impact that serves the underserved in the communities we call home?”

Mitchell Kozack and Schwarze discussed the intangible value that comes from addressing unmet social, economic and environmental needs through the work they have championed within their respective firms in the U.S. and abroad. 

In addition to directing HKS’ sustainability practice, in 2013, Mitchell Kozack founded Citizen HKS – a firm-wide initiative that strategically selects highly impactful public interest design projects around the world. Current Citizen HKS projects include a maternity ward in Kachumbala, Uganda, in partnership with U.K.-based nonprofit Engineers for Overseas Development; and an Urban Food Studio in Washington, D.C., in partnership with Clark Construction. The Urban Food Studio project was the 2015 recipient of the USGBC’s Greenbuild Legacy Project grant award.

Each year, SXSW Eco features a diverse range of programming slotted into Cities, Energy + Water, Policy, Corporate Social Responsibility, Communications, Design, and Startup Central programming tracks. Through provocative programming, strategic alliances and global participation, SXSW Eco supports communities creating a positive impact.

HKS, Inc. is a leading architectural design firm ranked among the top six architectural engineering firms, according to Building Design+Construction magazine. Since its founding in 1939, HKS has completed construction projects totaling more than $77 billion located in 1,650 cities in 84 countries. The firm is a worldwide network of professionals, strategically located and working seamlessly as one firm with individual expertise in design, research and management. HKS team members work together in teams across 27 offices and multiple sectors to deliver exceptional value to clients. 

For more information, contact Julie Wellik at

Posted in Green Places
Tagged Citizen HKS, public interest design, SXSW Eco