Can Design Challenge Inequality?
The Detroit Collaborative Design Center (DCDC) is a multi-disciplinary non-profit architecture and urban design firm based at the Detroit Mercy School of Architecture. The DCDC was founded in 1994 by Stephen Vogel with the mission to help revive the urban landscape of Detroit through innovative design and collaborative community practices. Since then, it has remained a steadfast leader in the field of community-based design practice. Over more than two decades, the DCDC has worked with over 100 Detroit non-profits at all scales, under the mandate that the potential revitalization of any neighborhood always lies with its own residents.
Key to the DCDC’s success is their Neighborhood Engagement Workshop (NEW) process which brings together community members to develop and implement new visions for their communities. The NEW process has since been widely adopted and emulated by activist community groups in the U.S. and abroad. The NEW process gathers around 25 participants from diverse backgrounds, taking care to invite students, professionals, business owners, and community leaders of all stripes. From there, participants are asked to draw out a collective vision for their community through workshops and exercises. The process is administered by staff from the DCDC, and the Center also produces Community How-to Guides which offer direction on how to foster effective collaboration.
Since 2000, the Center has been led by Dan Pitera. Under Pitera’s leadership, the Center was awarded the 2017 Whitney M. Young Jr. Award by the American Institute of Architects for its embodiment of social responsibility and actively addressing relevant social issues. It has also been the recipient of the NCARB prize in 2002 and 2009 and was included in the U.S. Pavilion at the 2008 Venice Biennale as a model of community-based practice.