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Detroit Collaborative Design Center

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 to help revive the urban landscape of Detroit through innovative design and collaborative community practices. It remains 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, with the guiding principle that the revitalization of any neighborhood lies with its own residents.

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.