Community Design Services

WAF Board Member and EL Studio founder Mark Lawrence, AIA, listens as Pat Nalls, Founder and Executive Director of the Women's Collective, describes her organization's vision for its downstairs space.

For more than 20 years the Washington Architectural Foundation (WAF), the nonprofit arm of the Washington, DC, chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA|DC), has offered pro bono assistance to provide conceptual preliminary designs to nonprofit and community organizations that could not otherwise afford professional design services. Volunteer architects have worked on more than 180 projects in the fields of architecture, landscape architecture, interior design, space planning and more.

WAF can help both mature and emerging groups meet housing, accessibility, health care, education, homeless services, artistic, cultural, and community development needs at the neighborhood level. Projects have ranged from highly complex ones like the recent volunteer-led transformation of eight public school libraries on Capitol Hill which now serve as efficient, accessible centers of learning to numerous small projects helping clients with space planning, accessibility, and other design and building challenges. WAF’s design services program has assisted the Bright Beginnings Child Development Center with space planning, America's Islamic Heritage Museum with obtaining a certificate of occupancy, and the Women's Collective with conceptual drawings for the renovation of their basement space to house staff and accommodate storage.

Working directly with client organizations, our design services volunteers can prepare preliminary designs and offer technical assistance including cost estimates, zoning analysis, programming, and presentation drawings. WAF volunteer design professionals can:

  • Put your dreams into drawings or reports that can be used to gain support from your community and your potential funders;
  • Assist in preparing a design program for your project;
  • Evaluate buildings to determine whether the structure can accommodate your program;
  • Provide conceptual designs and cost estimates. WAF volunteers cannot prepare construction documents or permit drawings.


Design services are primarily intended for nonprofits in the District of Columbia, although projects in the Washington, DC Metropolitan Area are also considered.

For a more information on projects that the CDS program has facilitated, please click here.

Related Items- CDS Application

Download: CDS Project Application