Community co-design to increase resilience in Western Addition



Co-design | Prototyping

The challenge

Over the course of a year, in partnership with the African American Arts and Culture Complex (AAACC), research and design an initiative to increase community resilience in San Francisco's Western Addition neighborhood. 


The outcome

We organized and lead an 8-week design intensive for AAACC youth, who learned about the design thinking, research, physical prototyping, and presenting their ideas. We also received $46,000 in grant funding for youth stipends, community events, prototyping, and construction / build / maintenance. Support for the initiative from community members was rated 4.5/5 (n=50). 

Overview of the Platform initiative

After a government initiative called redevelopment, the African American population in San Francisco fell from 13% in the 1970’s to <3% today. 

Our partner, the AAACC, holds more Black art companies than any other institution in the Bay Area and is a magnet for community events and artist expression. 

parklet arch model
parklet prototype


The opportunity

Our work was inspired by a 2015 local residents’ ethnographic study that described the area around the AAACC as a “social gathering desert.” The residents shared a vision of the AAACC becoming “a beacon or symbol to outsiders of excellence in Black arts and culture.” 

The two goals of the initiative are:

  1. Providing a space for the community gathering
  2. Increasing awareness of the AAACC

The audience includes people who work in the building, visit the building, and live nearby. A secondary audience is broader San Francisco residents and visitors.

That was the one of the most successful meetings at the Center.
— Micah Morgan, AAACC Artist-in-Residence and Youth Program Coordinator
big rich interview
They always push the problem with the gentrification. I would like for our new neighbors to come and check the building out. Let’s embrace them.
— Big Rich, Founder of Project Level and longtime resident

The team

Our team includes Louise Laub, Katie Jacquez, Shiv Kehr, Aditi Mathur, Tetiana Muraviova, Georgia Came. My role involves (rotating) team lead, partnerships and community engagement, communications, grant writing and presenting, and workshop facilitating.

Our team of Design Fellows includes Lani, Bibi, Journey, Dyncan, and Cam.

 Photo by  CCA Photography

The approach

After receiving a $10,000 grant from CCA’s Impact Awards, we launched our Design Fellows Program. We selected five local youth who are interested in art and have strong leadership skills. For eight weeks over the summer, we facilitated design workshops and experiences with the youth covering research, synthesis, insights, prototyping and iteration. Key activities included interviewing 15 community members, developing prototypes, gathering and addressing feedback, and organizing two community events.

mood board with fellows



bibi outside parklet community event
bibi vanessa sketching