Alignment for Impact
What We Did
We also interviewed design professionals, not-for-profit organizations, community development groups, and academic institutions to seek a wider range of precedents and experience with community engagement. Our findings focused on a comparative analysis of engagement strategies, and the identification of best practices and recommendations.
The full potential to leverage community engagement has not been fully recognized or incorporated in the design process. Our research uncovered significant, burgeoning interest, as well as a range of engagement toolkits and best practices geared toward social impact across the industry. Better engagement can promote meaningful, impactful design by broadening the dialogue to include key stakeholders, ultimately revealing mutually beneficial or unrecognized design opportunities.
Engaging the community improves decision making. By aligning diverse stakeholder and user voices, designers and clients can make more informed decisions to align project goals, community needs, and user expectations. This information proves relevant at all stages of real estate development, from master planning to move-in, and is critical to identifying areas in the community that hold the greatest opportunity for intervention.
Involvement in the design process also improves acceptance. Designing with the community, rather than for it, makes end-users and stakeholders more likely to feel ownership of, and connection to, a final product. Particularly for projects where the users or customers represent a broader community, involvement can deliver significant returns in terms of ultimate project success.
What This Means
Create a diverse stakeholder group. Engaging a diverse set of stakeholders enables a robust, informed design solution. For the community, the result is a product better aligned with their needs and interests; for the client, acceptance and alignment with community goals improves overall chances of success.
Use input to target investment. Soliciting and documenting community input informs decision making and helps identify opportunities for maximum impact. Use this information to align resources to optimize community benefit through design and real estate investments.
Maddy Burke-Vigeland, Katrina Barney, Nina Charnotskaia, Jon Corish, Lauren Hibner, Christopher Miller, Tom Milavec