Assembly: Project Orientation

The Center for Active Design (CfAD) is pleased to share the Assembly Project Orientation. CfAD is leading this pioneering initiative to understand how place-based design informs a range of civic engagement outcomes: 1) civic trust and appreciation, 2) participation in public life, 3) stewardship of the public realm, and 4) informed local voting. The findings will be translated into practical design strategies and disseminated in a publication known as Assembly: Shaping Space for Civic Life, scheduled for publication in 2018. 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.

The Project Orientation was developed to create a common vocabulary and serve as a guiding resource for partners enlisted in the Assembly initiative. The document clarifies project objectives, and highlights initial findings that have emerged from a detailed literature review and preliminary data analysis. For example:

  • People living in neighborhoods with parks are more likely to report a sense of civic trust and willingness to help others.
  • Walkable, mixed-use neighborhoods are associated with greater participation in public life.
  • Individuals may be more conscientious stewards of their communities when public spaces are well maintained.
  • Community aesthetics and beauty impact trust in local leaders, as well as people’s sense of being able to make a difference in their community (which is connected to political participation rates).

The Project Orientation also highlights critical research gaps to explore. For example, how does the siting and design of public buildings impact civic engagement? How can technology and messaging be harnessed within the public realm to support civic dialogue? CfAD will apply a range of original research methods to investigate these, and other, key questions. Ultimately, Assembly seeks to build a broad movement, inspiring a wide range of professionals and community advocates to use design to shape the civic life of their communities.

Download Assembly Project Orientation

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