Key to the DCDC’s success is their Neighborhood Engagement Workshop (NEW) that brings stakeholders together to develop and implement new visions for their communities. The NEW process gathers around 25 participants from diverse backgrounds, taking care to invite students, professionals, business owners, and community leaders of all stripes. Participants are asked to draw out a collective vision through workshops and exercises. The process is administered by staff from the DCDC, who also produces community how-to guides which offer direction on how to foster effective collaboration.
The NEW process has since been widely adopted and emulated by activist community groups in the U.S. and abroad.
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.