OU Gibbs College of Architecture Faculty Receive National Science Foundation Grant


A project team of University of Oklahoma researchers and Oklahoma City civic partners are collaborating to create the Legacy Building Toolset, a digital platform that will allow community members to collectively explore identity, the meaning of place, and create and engage with community assets and more easily allow community members to participate in community collaboration projects.

The project recently received a $50,000 award from the National Science Foundation as part of the Civic Innovation Challenge, a multi-agency, federal government research and action competition that aims to fund ready-to-implement, research-based pilot projects that have the potential for scalable, sustainable, and transferable impact on community-identified priorities.

The project team is led by Deborah Richards, Assistant Professor of Architecture, and also includes Vanessa Morrison, the Associate Director of the Institute for Quality Communities, and John Harris, the Director of the Division of Regional and City Planning.

The Legacy Building Toolset is a response to how local residents often experience powerlessness and the exclusion of their voices in the urban planning and policy making process. The toolset will first be developed in the context of Northeastern Oklahoma City but will be applicable to communities across the United States.

Northeastern Oklahoma City is a predominantly Black community currently working to strengthen cultural and economic activities and create a strong sense of place and identity. Today, the racist urban policy and societal norms that shaped the history of the area are being reviewed to identify more equitable urban policies and practices. The Legacy Building Toolset will allow community members to explore their identity and meaning of place in order to create community-driven interpretations of meaning in the built form at a large scale with an overlay of culture and identity. The information from the platform may inform transportation and mobility improvement projects, cultural programming and resources for establishing city recognized commercial districts.