Diébédo Francis Kéré’s first building was this primary school in Gando, Burkina Faso. (Siméon Duchoud/Aga Khan Trust for, © 2010 Museum of Modern Art / September 12, 2010)

Has architecture rediscovered its conscience? Or is it just critics and curators who have had a reawakening, suddenly paying attention to design work that has been going on steadily, and right under our noses, for years?

Those are among the compelling questions hovering around “Small Scale, Big Change: New Architectures of Social Engagement,” which opens Oct. 3 at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. The exhibition is only the latest in a string this year of museum shows to explore so-called humanitarian design, an approach to architectural practice that instead of splashy new skyscrapers or private villas concentrates on disaster relief, anti-poverty programs and affordable housing.

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Christopher Hawthorne
Los Angeles Times

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