Design Center Directory

The legacy of Community Design Centers follows the leadership of Whitney M. Young. It is described (here). These centers were tasked to prove that respect for shaping something into something better is more than an object in a place. Many spatial problems do not require a physical solution but a process thoroughly invested in a community facing intractable problems. Planning and design offers tangible results in these two spheres of change. Nevertheless, the politics of architecture required to succeed by combining challenged communities with sustained professional forces is failing. Today, architecture is a profession that contributes to, as well as, awaits disaster by failing to lead with effectiveness and confidence.


The Big Fail

The resources of planning, design, and architecture should be available to all people in society, regardless of economic circumstances. The altruistic instincts of architects are vital to this idea, but these efforts remain organizationally insufficient. The value of design practice as a social enterprise is critical for every community to view the future.

Too many communities across the nation have a future that they are unwilling to see. Still, the unique services of planning and design have yet to form the institutional structures essential to the quality of service all people need and will urgently require.

The objective of this directory is not exhaustive, but it is a search for a select group of design agents of the “common good” as institution builders, stewards of the environment, and stalwarts against all threats to human dignity. The agents listed here will be explored for their failure while in search of those who have found ways to lead positive community change. The nonprofit practice of planning and architecture as community design is an investment in neighborhoods as the reinvention engine of a city, region, or state. The antagonists with whom a confrontation is necessary are also pursued.

Please find a nonprofit design resource in your community. If you do not, contact us (here) now.

Directory of Design Centers

An interactive site of architectural organizations was first initiated by the Association for Community Design (ACD). ACD offered an open database system (OBDC) for interactive use, data exchanges, shared funding models, expanding membership, as well as regional and national conference planning. The designer moved on to produce OBDC services for LinkedIn. Ironically the original website’s exquisite JavaScript was invisible to the aesthetic eye of many, especially those who believed Community Design should remain a subsidizing agent for private architecture practices. Nevertheless, the idea of a nonprofit practice continues to develop.


Celebrating the operation of nonprofit design institutions and the vision of professionals dedicated to essential anti-poverty and social justice, advocacy, and design in the United States remains difficult. In our new environment of creative restraint, every ounce of energy in the innovative heart of design will prove its worth. Of the gatherings of designers in search of an institution-building model, two groups stay helpful.

One is the unfiltered database of the Spatial Agency. This effort exhibits a global interest in the practice of design in every aspect imaginable. The other is the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture’s (ACSA) survey (pdf here and cover left), published in 2014. It was produced with the support of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Housing Knowledge Community to advance public awareness of community design practices in North America. This document is also very broad, focusing on university education and educators.

The Community Design practice celebrated here will represent a different effort by finding ways a fusion of political science, psychology, urban planning, architecture, engineering, and design is possible and occurring today. A second is an incentivizing filter. This directory will only support and recognize the role of design and development institutions in their service to the uniquely American pursuit of social justice. and economic justice.

The scope of design, the shaping of something into something, is a perpetual human endeavor to bring Nature closer for protection and the common good in all of its functions, but not without a confrontation.

Following is a brief introduction to three institutional forces shaping the role of full planning, design, and architecture as nonprofit institutions. The directory will focus on successes in this endeavor, examine failures, and discover how new ways forward in the devolution and evolution of shaping the human habitat as a leadership responsibility of these professions.

Success Examples

Failure to Consider

Devolved or Evolved