“I have learned that architecture can be a transformative engine for change,” said Michael Murphy, co-founder and CEO of MASS Design Group, in his talk at the annual TED conference in Vancouver this February.

Starting with a moving personal story about his father’s battle with and victory over cancer, the architect discussed ways the built environment can positively impact the health and wellbeing of individuals and communities. He touched on many of his firm’s humanitarian projects, including the Butaro Hospital in Rwanda, the GHESKIO Cholera Treatment Center in Haiti, the Ilima Primary School in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and the Kasungu Maternity Waiting Village in Malawi.

“In each of these projects we asked a simple question,” said Murphy. “What more can architecture do? And by asking that question, we were forced to consider how we could create jobs, how we could source regionally, and how we can invest in the dignity of the communities in which we serve.”

Murphy concluded with a preview of MASS Design Group’s upcoming collaboration with the Equal Justice Initiative on a national memorial to victims of lynching. “Great architecture can give us hope,” he said. “Great architecture can heal.”

Watch the full talk below.

Michael Murphy will speak at Architectural Record's Innovation Conference, "Architecture and Making in the Post-Digital Age," on November 3rd. Visit the conference website to learn more and register.