A Tale of Two Companies: Novedge and Public Architecture

November 14, 2013 5 min read

This year, Novedge is giving back: for the first time, every time we sell a new copy of AutoCAD 2014, we will donate $200 to the 1% Program of Public Architecture.

John Peterson and Franco Folini 730 pxl

Franco Folini, our CoFounder and President, sat down with John Peterson, his counterpart at Public Architecture, to discuss being good neighbors, building community and giving back.

John Peterson: I was surprised to find out Novedge is just down the street from Public Architecture. How did Novedge start?

Franco Folini: Cristiano Sacchi and I met while doing research on CAD engineering in college in Italy. Then, after many years, our paths crossed again in San Francisco and we decided to partner up and cofound Novedge. Ten years ago, many people thought we were crazy selling CAD software online. Now, online sales are becoming more and more prevalent in all industries and Novedge is the leading reseller of CAD software for design professionals.

I was delighted as well to know Public Architecture is so close by. It made it even easier to approach you about contributing to The 1% program!

Public Architecture - TAF Community Center

 TAF Community Center – Project Architect: Miller Hull

John Peterson: We always appreciate getting to meet new friends, especially when they come to us with a great idea for supporting our work. How did you decide to give to The 1%?

Franco Folini: Having a background in engineering, Cris and I always envisioned Novedge as more than just a place to buy software online: we wanted to also build community, helping the professionals who use our software connect with each other and grow their business. We have tremendous respect for what our customers do, it takes dedication and a great deal of hard work. As you know, having a small business is not easy, but we are now big enough to be able to truly give back to the community that made it possible for Novedge to grow.

Our team looked at many options for giving back: we were all already familiar with The 1% program, and we all felt your mission was exactly what we were looking for. Plus, our contribution to Public Architecture goes much farther than most donations. As I understand it, each donation of $200 results in about $12,000 worth of pro bono design services out in the world.

John Peterson: That’s right. Thanks to the commitment of our many partners across the country, we are able to maximize the impact of every dollar we receive.

Franco Folini: How does that work? Better yet, how did Public Architecture and The 1% program get their start?

John Peterson: I was running a private practice here in San Francisco when my team and I realized that, even though we wanted to use our architectural skills and expertise to give back to our community, there were few (if any) channels through which we could do this positive work—a stark contrast to other specialized professions like medicine and law. That gap, combined with my longstanding conviction that architects should be as involved with identifying problems in the built environment as they are with solving those problems, led me to found Public Architecture in 2002. Today, we have the privilege of working with partners across the nation to leverage the design of the built environment for social gain.

Public Architecture - HWC

Hawai'i Wildlife Center - Architect: Ruhl Walker Architects

The 1% program mobilizes designers to create positive social impact by pledging a minimum of 1% of their annual billable hours to pro bono design services. Combined with the launch of our online matching platform in 2007, we have engaged more than 1,200 firms and more than 700 nonprofit organizations through The 1%. Altogether, this means that The 1% program generates more than 330,000 hours in pro bono services—worth more than $43 million—each year.

Through the efforts of our network and the overall growth of the social impact design movement, we’re seeing quality design appear more frequently in parks, schools, hospitals, and so on. It’s been an especially amazing experience for us to see people outside of the design profession, too, embracing the value and potential of the design of the built environment.

Franco Folini: That must be very reaffirming. We hope that our new donation program adds to the positive trends you’re seeing out in the world!


John Peterson: Some of our members might not be clear about your donation program. How exactly does it work?

Franco Folini: It's very simple: Novedge will donate $200 to The 1% program for every new copy of AutoCAD 2014 we sell. Here is the list of all the products that qualify for the donation. All other discounts will stay the same, including our $100 discount for AIA members and Autodesk’s current $400 mail in rebate. So, our customers still get the best value for their dollar, plus they get to support Public Architecture. It's a win-win situation for everyone involved.

How else can people help and get involved with Public Architecture?

John Peterson: We’re always grateful for the generosity of our supporters—not only in terms of financial donations but also donations of time, skills, expertise, and materials, too. Visiting our website is the single best way to make donations online, learn about new volunteer opportunities, and keep up-to-date with our internal initiatives and projects. We also host and participate in events across the country, so you can follow our travels—and catch us live—via our blog, The Public Dialogue and by following us on Facebook and Twitter. And, if you’re a designer whose firm is interested in giving back or a nonprofit in need of design services, you can sign up for The 1% program at our matching website.

Of course, you can always start by purchasing a new copy of AutoCAD 2014, too! Thank you, again, for thinking of us—we could not be more excited about this partnership with Novedge. How can readers join us in learning more about your community, if they haven’t already?

Franco Folini: We are very active online (of course!), so I would like to invite everybody to join us on Facebook, Twitter or Google+ to stay in touch with us and to connect with other professionals. This year we will be for the first time at Autodesk University, so I would also like to invite everybody to join us in Las Vegas the first week of December if they are attending this event. We will be at Booth 25. And if you are in San Francisco, keep your eyes on our updates, we will be having a Holiday Party on Wednesday December 11 at the office and everyone is invited. John, as our neighbors, I count on your team to be there!

John Peterson: Absolutely. We couldn’t imagine a better way to celebrate our work together.

Novedge + 1% Logo

Learn more about Public Architecture and their 1% Program online and connect with them on Facebook and Twitter.

If you need a new copy of AutoCAD 2014, here's the list of products that will result in our donation to the 1%. Each new copy also comes with a mail in rebate of $400 and an additional $100 discount for members of the AIA.


Also in NOVEDGE Blog