Sharon Prince is the CEO and Founder of Grace Farms Foundation and commissioned SANAA to design Grace Farms in New Canaan, Connecticut. The Foundation’s interdisciplinary humanitarian mission is to pursue peace through nature, arts, justice, community, faith, and Design for Freedom, a new movement to eliminate forced labor from the building materials supply chain. The open, porous architecture of the River building at Grace Farms is embedded into 80 acres of natural landscape. The building, designed to break down barriers between people and sectors, invites all to pause and reflect, while also encouraging engagement with its initiatives, creating new outcomes.
Since opening, Grace Farms has garnered numerous awards for contributions to architecture, environmental sustainability, and social good, including the AIA National 2017 Architecture Honor Award and the Mies Crown Hall Americas Prize. Prince served on the 2018 AIA Institute Honor Awards for Architecture Jury. In 2019, Prince received the NYC Visionary Award from AIA-NY and the Center for Architecture and in 2020, the CEO Forum’s Transformative CEO Award | Leading through Crisis. In 2022, Sharon was recognized by Fast Company and included in its list of the Most Creative People in Business 2022.
After recognizing a void in addressing exploitation in the building materials supply chain in 2017, Prince formed the Design for Freedom Working Group which now includes more than 100 leaders and experts within the ecosystem of the built environment to create a radical paradigm shift by initializing awareness and creating institutional responses to remove forced labor from the building materials supply chain.
In 2020, Prince launched the groundbreaking movement Design for Freedom with the publication of a nearly 100-page report that provides analysis and data on how forced labor is embedded into the very foundations of our buildings.
Prince has guest-lectured at many universities and industry associations, and has been interviewed by several publications, including NYT, Forbes, A|N, Architectural Record, Fast Company, Madame Architect, and ArchDaily.
Prince is also a social entrepreneur who co-founded Grace Farms Foods, a public benefit subsidiary that educates the public about the charitable work of Grace Farms Foundation and demonstrates what the Foundation advocates for: ethical and sustainable supply chains.
The first-ever Design for Freedom Summit was held at Grace Farms in March 2022, where Prince opened with former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Prince Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein and the Design for Freedom Toolkit was released. There are currently five Design for Freedom Pilot Projects in the U.S. and abroad, including the New Canaan Library in Connecticut, with Centerbrook Architects and Turner Construction on the project team, and the 21st Serpentine Pavilion in London, Black Chapel, designed by Theaster Gates – open June to November 2022.
Prince is an Advisor to the Global Alliance for Buildings and Construction (Global ABC) and on the Mies Crown Hall Americas Prize Board (MCHAP).