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Detroit Collaborative Design Center




Architecture education, community design

The 2017 Whitney Young Award recognized the Detroit Collaborative Design Center (DCDC) for its creative broad-based approach to community engagement, neighborhood revitalization, and architectural mentorship.


Housed in the School of Architecture at the University of Detroit Mercy, DCDC is modeled after a teaching hospital, where one to four student interns work closely with seven full-time architecture, landscape, planning, and urban design professionals. The center brings its design expertise to local stakeholders often left outside of such conversations. Together they are able to define innovative architectural and urban solutions while enabling communities to face the future on their own terms.


DCDC purposefully positions itself at the center of Detroit’s land use debates, promoting what it calls “grassroots and grasstops” decision-making. Its projects run the gamut from physical structures to how-to guides for communities. For its Detroit Future City initiative, the center engaged more than 90,000 residents through street teams and neighborhood events to develop a 50-year urban planning framework for the city. In 2016, DCDC worked with area high school seniors and community members to redevelop a former city department site into a public open space, complete with a kids’ climbing mound, raised garden beds, apple orchard, and a signature solar-powered stage and pavilion.

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