Engaging Community


An architect's work affects communities, respectfully engaging with them and adopting solutions created in partnership is imperative. Such engagement leads to a more equitable built environment that flourishes. This guide notes that engaging communities has challenges resulting from years of inequitable practices in architecture and beyond, largely due to structural racism. With greater equity, the profession improves its impact and increases its value to society.


Chapter 8: Engaging Community >

Community-focused design practices

Wisdom from the Field: Public Interest Architecture in Practice - Roberta M. Feldman, Sergio Palleroni, David Perkes, and Bryan Bell (2013)

Overview of the state of public interest design in architecture, including benefits of public interest design, its interaction with communities, different ways firms are incorporating public interest design into their business practices, effective strategies, and suggestions to support and grow public interest design in architecture.

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Architecture and outreach

Open-Architecture Collaborative

U.S. nonprofit organization with multiple national and global chapters that develops educational programs for architects to become change makers and leaders "while simultaneously producing place-making programs with community developers and associations to inspire ownership and civic engagement in traditionally marginalized communities."

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Public Architecture

Public Architecture connects nonprofits with pro bono design services and advocates for socially meaningful design. The firm is a leader in the "pro bono design movement by asking design firms to formalize their commitment to give back professionally."

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Guides and toolkits

21st Century Development (21CD) - AIA Minnesota/Center for Sustainable Building Research

Framework for neighborhood development that uses building-performance areas related to sustainability and equity. This framework was designed for the purpose of creating resilient, regenerative communities that are healthy for people and the environment.

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Create a Plan for Your Community - 11th Street Bridge Park

Video highlighting the seven-step process used on the 11th Street Bridge Park's Equitable Development Plan project. Also see Our Community. Our Process. Our Plan. to hear more about the experiences of those who worked on the project.

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Community Engagement Toolkit - Futurewise, Interim CDA, OneAmerica, El Centro de la Raza (2014)

Guidance and resources for engaging community in government planning. Includes tools to inform and consult with the community, promote community collaboration, and empower community members.

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Community Planning Toolkit: Community Engagement - Community Places (2014)

A guide for planning community engagement. Includes methods and techniques for engagement and assesses their strengths and weaknesses.

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Engage for Equity

This website provides a framework and tools for conducting community-based participatory research (CBPR). The CBPR Conceptual Model has four domains that guide engaged research: context, partnership processes, interventions and research, and range of outcomes. This model can be adapted to multiple different community-engagement contexts, including architecture.

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Equitable Development as a Tool to Advance Racial Equity - Government Alliance on Race and Equity

Report detailing the framework for equitable development. Has examples of equitable-development projects in multiple locations in the United States.

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The Field Guide to Human-Centered Design - IDEO (2015)

Guide to a process for human-centered design to allow deep engagement with the community being designed for. Process is structured into three phases: inspiration, ideation, and implementation, with a variety of strategies and tools for each phase.

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A Model for Getting Started: How Do We Begin Taking Action in the Community? - Community Tool Box, University of Kansas

General model for getting involved in your community, with links to resources for every step: Assess, Plan, Act, Evaluate, and Sustain.

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Image credits


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