One of the central insights from scholars of political theory is that people and communities get organized, at least in part, because they already have radical visions for the future—visions that are often far more radical than anything dreamt up in a design studio or practice.

This collection of projects illustrates a variety of ways in which designers have attempted to directly align their work with the movements for climate, housing, economic, and racial justice around the United States.

Back to Curated Projects

Investing in People through Workforce Development: Living Infrastructure
for a Regenerative Economy

Pacific Northwest and Beyond

In a radical reimagining of place-centric investment, this project calls for a shift from investing in places to investing in people. Through centering the question of who builds wealth and experiences benefits in traditional infrastructural developments, this project puts forth a new community workforce development model. Using two examples based on real world projects and partnerships, this proposal demonstrates the power in a community centered paradigm of living infrastructure.

Authors: Authors: Amelia Jensen, Graham Prentice, Debra Guenther, Kasia Keeley, Shannon Lee, Chuck McDowell, Caitlin Squier-Roper, Dorothy Faris, Tim Mollette-Parks, Mariel Steiner, Isabela Noriega
Firm: Mithun

Property Playbook
West Oakland and Beyond

Through gathering research findings and design proposals on property case studies in West Oakland, this “Property Playbook” aims to be useful in exploring and problematizing understandings of property. Stemming from workshop discussions with local professionals in the area, each section contains case study research, design tactics for diverse urban conditions, and depictions of design proposals grounded in the urban ecosystem of the East Bay.

Authors: Sanyukta Bhagwat, Craig Dias, Jason Gonzalez, Shih Ting Huang, Chaitanya Khurana, Savannah Lindsey, Kyle Matlock, Kevin Pham, Abigail Rockwell, Alexander Roos, Marion Rosas.
Institution: California College of the Arts
Instructor: Janette Kim

Catalytic Convergence
Dangermond Preserve, CA

Stemming from an understanding of the layers of history within the site, this project re-imagines the Dangermond Preserve as a regenerative, living laboratory for the teaching and practice of Indigenous methods for tending, gathering, designing, and land management. Centering restoration of ecosystems and engagement with the Chumash community and intertribal networks, this project calls for the advancement of Indigenous leadership in the fields of conservation and environmental management.

Author: Lani MacLean
Institution: California Polytechnic University Pomona
Instructor: Claire Latané

East Harlem: The Bank
Harlem, NY

Reacting to the massive waste created in construction, this project calls for the establishment of circular consumption. Through highlighting the potential of material “waste,” The Bank proposes a site where the life cycle and design for (dis)assembly can become the main considerations in material choices.The project acts both as educational facility as well as a physical and social infrastructure mediating between people and materials in New York City.

Authors: Natalia Enriquez Goyes, Clara Ziada
Institution: University of Toronto
Instructor: Sam Dufaux (TA: Allison Jang)

Engaging with East Harlem’s heritage of celebration, this project brings together people in support of uniting activism and the generation of community networks. The site aims to build spaces of celebration through diverse and dynamic programs that overlap and blend into one another, with a consideration of the larger environmental impact. The project acts as rainwater storage, anaerobic digestor of waste, provider of energy, as well as an urban forest.

Authors: Zak Jacobi, Evan Webber
Institution: University of Toronto
Instructor: Sam Dufaux

This East Harlem project brings people together to support a common cause, with celebration playing an active role in encouraging social gathering and empowering community members through the sharing of experiences, stories, and talents. Dynamic and overlapping programs prompt both formal and informal interactions. Materials used on site were selected with consideration of its impact not just on the site but within the larger cycles of the community and city.

Authors: Lucy Yang, Jeff Jang
Institution: University of Toronto
Instructor: Carol Moukheiber

Developed as a data-driven decision-making tool, Empowered Adaptations works to help communities and policymakers identify strategies, prioritize initiatives, and direct resources towards supporting equity and resiliency in climate mitigation and adaptation work. Composed of four lenses, the tool works to assess potential intervention impacts. Drawing from best practices and aiming to increase social equity and decrease community carbon footprints, this tool works to ensure that all populations might benefit from urban sustainability initiatives.

Authors: Garlen Capita, Zoe Cennami, Keiko Cramer, Zuzanna Drozdz, Charles Neer, Amie Patel, William Wellington, Shuning Zhao
Firm: WRT

Amplifying existing community efforts at establishing food and land sovereignty, this project in the disinvested-from West Boulevard neighborhood pairs policy change with symbiotic regional systems. Drawing inspiration from permaculture principles - including closed-loop food systems, graduated zones of intensity, and nutrient recovery greenhouses - this project centers sustainable design and equitable policies that create quality jobs, celebrate local culture, decarbonize, and protect residents vulnerable to displacement.

Authors: Angela Kealey Rainey, Avery Barlett-Golden, Julia Needham
Institution: North Carolina State University
Instructor: Kofi Boone

The Black Belt Region was reimagined and futured as fount and staging ground for a reparation-based Green New Deal. Working in five teams, students created storymaps of catalytic and transformative regional opportunities and assets; diagrams of regional stakeholders, decision makers, and resource holders along with power dynamics in affecting GND planning and implementation; and future histories exploring multi-scalar, multi-sector reparative planning and design.

Authors: Cecley Hill, Thandi Nyambose, Polly Sinclair, Kymberly Ware, Slide Kelly, Emma Bird, Whytne Stevens, Zoe Lacovino, Cynthia Deng, Ciara Stein, Anne Lin, Darryle Ulama, Sarah Smyth, Winn Costantini
Institution: Harvard Graduate School of Design
Instructor: Lily Song