Communities by Design

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Who we are

Communities all over the world are struggling to build effective strategies to address their key challenges, from climate change and equity to housing and revitalization. In response, the Communities by Design program brings together architects and other professional disciplines to work alongside the residents, professionals and institutions of host communities on key local issues. Every project is community-driven and includes meaningful public participation in an intensive process to match professional expertise with public values and aspirations for a place. 

Communities by Design is a program of the Architect's Foundation, the philanthropic partner of The American Institute of Architects (AIA)

Our legacy and record of success

By Paola Capo posted 03-01-2021 01:59 PM


Our legacy

The Communities by Design (CxD) program reflects decades of work in hundreds of communities with tens of thousands of volunteers and citizens. It has catalyzed adaptation of its innovative approach to communities through training activities, guidance and resources for members, partner organizations and others. This has fueled thousands of additional processes and a global urban movement. The community outcomes have created international renown for places like the Pearl District in Portland, Santa Fe’s Railyard District and East Nashville. Today, the initiative encompasses direct work in over a dozen countries across 5 continents, including communities in 47 US states. It has directly influenced the adaptation of its democratic methodologies in processes all over the world, profoundly impacting how our profession approaches communities. 

The CxD program is the single most impactful investment ever made in communities by the AIA. In 2023, Communities by Design became a part of the Architect's Foundation (the philanthropic partner of AIA) in order to expand the offerings and reach of the program. 

Recognized Excellence

Communities by Design projects are consistently recognized for excellence in the field and the positive impact they have on communities. During the past decade, our program has received numerous awards, including:

  • Organization of the Year, Core Values Awards, International Association for Public Participation, 2010
  • Platinum Award, Facilitation Impact Awards, International Association of Facilitators, 2013
  • ‘Power of A’ Silver Award, ASAE, 2013
  • Outstanding Program Award, Community Development Society, 2015
  • Excellence in Social impact Design Awards, Inscape Publico, 2015
  • Silver Award, Facilitation Impact Awards, International Association of Facilitators, 2016
  • Social Advocacy Award, American Planning Association – Massachusetts Chapter, 2016
  • Excellence in Sustainability Award – Partner, American Planning Association, 2017
  • Gold Award, Facilitation Impact Awards, International Association of Facilitators, 2018
  • ‘Power of A’ Silver Award, ASAE, 2018
  • Leadership in Sustainability Award, American Planning Association, 2019