Assembly: Shaping Space for Civic Life

The Center for Active Design (CfAD) is leading a pioneering initiative to understand how place-based design informs a range of civic engagement outcomes: civic trust, participation in public life, stewardship of the public realm, and informed local voting. The findings will be translated into practical design strategies and disseminated in an upcoming publication known as Assembly: Shaping Space for Civic Life. Assembly will serve as a groundbreaking resource for city leaders and designers who seek to strengthen their communities by harnessing design to support civic life. This work is generously supported by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, and guided by a diverse, multi-disciplinary advisory committee.

Cities around the nation are experiencing negative trends in civic engagement, with low voter turnout, underutilized public spaces, and growing social and economic divides. Assembly will outline cost-effective, evidence-based strategies that demonstrate how the design of the built environment can foster civic engagement.

To support the development of Assembly, CfAD is analyzing project examples and undertaking a series of original experiments in communities across the U.S. to fill knowledge gaps in the existing literature. A multi-disciplinary network of expert advisers is providing input on strategic direction and content development for the Assembly design guidelines, which are scheduled for publication in 2018. Ultimately, Assembly seeks to build a broad movement that will inspire a wide range of professionals and community advocates to use design to shape the civic life of their communities.

Download the Assembly Projection Orientation here.

Download Research Brief I here.

Download Assembly Civic Engagement Survey here.

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    2016 Center for Active Design Excellence: awards winner Urban Grow Center mural painting project. Photo: Capital Roots
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    Community center at Bay Terrace Community + Education Center, 2016 Center for Active Design Excellence: awards winner. Photo: Lara Swimmer Photography