Author(s): Emilie Taylor Welty
University-based Community Design Centers have seen a resurgence in recent decades, and current inequities and social movements have given greater urgency to questions of who can access design and how. This paper outlines lessons learned over 12 years in the Albert and Tina Small Center for Collaborative Design’s approach to educating citizen-architects, rethinking design processes, and executing projects with a deep commitment to engagement, place and design excellence. We use the design process as a powerful coalition building tool, a way to challenge traditional power dynamics, and are able to prove the value of design excellence in our city and shift conventions around who architects serve, what they work on, and why design matters. What follows are a few strategies for creating a thoughtful project selection process, building trust and capacity within project teams, and rethinking the education of designers towards more collaborative and inclusive processes.
Amir Ameri & Rebecca O'Neal Dagg