For 23 years the Detroit Collaborative Design Center has worked to bring the voices of all citizens to bear on the design of cities. From its base in the School of Architecture at the University of Detroit Mercy, DCDC’s teams of professionals and students have partnered with community organizations to complete design projects in Detroit and across the country. Its success is being recognized by the American Institute of Architects, which is awarding DCDC its 2017 Whitney Young Award.
DCDC propelled the critical conversation about Detroit’s future, creating Detroit Future City, a framework to guide the city through the next 50 years. The AIA applauds the project’s community engagement strategies: “Through social media, a website, an active street team, community conversations, and other creative tactics, the project reached more than 90,000 Detroit residents while developing a system that cleverly blends community and technical expertise.”
Dan Pitera (LF 05) has been executive director since 2000 and led the Detroit Future City project; Loeb Fellow Terrence Curry (’01) founded the center in 1994.
When I founded the design center, the mission was to use design as a means for social change through direct partnership with community development organizations. I never imagined that the design center would still be devoted to the same mission some 20 years later. Congratulations to the university, the School of Architecture, and numerous partners, but especially to Dan Pitera for keeping the faith and building the center into a truly valuable force for good design in Detroit that serves the poor and advocates for the disenfranchised.