The Institute without Boundaries was founded in 2003 by the School of Design at George Brown College, in consultation with Bruce Mau. Massive Change: The Future of Global Design, was the Institute’s first project, commissioned by the Vancouver Art Gallery, and led by Bruce Mau Design. In its inaugural year, six students worked in the Bruce Mau Design Studio researching, writing and designing the Massive Change exhibition, website, radio show and book. These highly successful products sparked a discourse on the potential of design to leverage positive change for the future.
In 2004, eight new students carried the project to fruition. Massive Change: The Future of Global Design premiered at the Vancouver Art Gallery with a 20,000 square foot exhibition. Phaidon published the Massive Change book, and the student-designed Massive Change product line was launched by Umbra. The following year, Phaidon published the Massive Change book, and the student-designed Massive Change product line was launched by Umbra. In 2005, graduates of the Institute collaborated with the School of Design at George Brown College to build the Massive Change in Action website for the Virtual Museum of Canada. The Massive Change exhibit also travelled to the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto and the Chicago Museum of Contemporary Art.
In 2006, the Institute entered its second phase with a three-year initiative, the World House Project, which builds upon the research and energy of Massive Change. The World House Project confronted the necessary evolution of shelter for coming generations by developing housing systems based on principles of sustainability, accessibility, technological responsiveness and ecological balance. The Institute continues its research on the future of housing through faculty-led initiatives such as the Canuhome and Health-e Home.
Since September 2009, the IwB has embarked on a new project: City Systems. This project examines the city at macro and micro levels, seeks to understand the mechanisms and façades of the urban environment, and explores the past, present, and future of civilization as it relates to urban life.
The partner for the 2012/13 City Systems project is the city of Dublin, Ireland. This project will centre on examining the various systems that make up the city and proposing new and innovative sustainable urban practices that build on the existing planning practices in the city of Dublin.