PYATOK’s mission reveals the originating purpose of our work: to provide the highest quality design and technical assistance in a world of shrinking resources to people across a wide spectrum of incomes, socio-cultural backgrounds, and ages. Originally focused solely on helping lower income communities determine their own sustainable housing solutions unique to their cultural and social origins, PYATOK’s commitment has now also extended to people who have the financial ability to comfortably obtain their own housing on the open market, and to students in higher education who need decent and affordable housing.
Our early passion to engage people normally excluded from planning and designing their own communities has put us in contact with a wide variety of populations, across a broad social, cultural, racial and ethnic spectrum. To help engage this diversity, during Programming and Design, we ask probing yet respectful questions and are good listeners. Our practice is not based on design formulas, stylistic or otherwise. We undertake careful research to uncover the unique needs of the community being served, and organize a process that engages our clients and community in a participatory, people-centered effort customized to the context of the target population. We have devised useful 2D and 3D tools to help people create for themselves a wide variety of their own physical options that meet not only their functional requirements, but also reveal insights into softer issues about their values, goals, intentions and aspirations. We have extended these tools to our work with universities and market-rate developers who have sought our services because of the reputation we established serving lower income communities.
What we have learned in our 30 years is that in any neighborhood or campus, regardless of income and privilege, there is a pride of place universal to all residents that must be respected and put to use; there is a sense of history which any newcomer must get to know, understand, and ingest; that all people are potential sources of ideas about planning, urban design and architecture; that the merging of economic, social, cultural, ecological and technological factors into a poetically inspired environment cannot be done by us alone. We believe that while the success of a new place definitely depends on our design talents, technical skills, eco-sensitivity, and our sense of poetry, it is equally dependent on our good ‘people skills’.
In the same spirit that we serve clients and communities, we serve our staff: every effort is made to provide a nurturing environment where everyone gets an opportunity to grow professionally and personally, within an atmosphere that challenges, questions, and innovates while countering the stresses that come in any creative enterprise with heavy doses of ever-present humor—we simply try to keep things in perspective. Our approach seems to have proven to work for our staff, our clients, the communities we serve and the many consultants and contractors with whom we collaborate.