Good Design Is a Public Good

The following is excerpted from Design for Good by John Cary, with a foreword by Melinda Gates (Island Press, $30). The book collects 20 case studies of public-interest architecture.  

If you asked 100 random people or even 100 designers, “What is design?” you would get approximately that many different answers. In the most positive sense, this explains the pervasiveness of designers working in and touching every imaginable aspect of our lives. Beyond built structures, the products we rely on da…