Campus Units

Architecture, Landscape Architecture

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Conference Proceeding

Publication Version

Published Version

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Journal or Book Title

EDRA45 New Orleans, Louisiana: Building with Change, Proceedings of the 45th Annual Conference of the Environmental Design Research Association

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Last Page


Conference Title

45th Annual Conference of the Environmental Design Research Association

Conference Date

May 28–31, 2014


New Orleans, LA, United States


In Good Deeds Good Design, Roberta Feldman states that empowering community design facilitates effective, informed decision-making by “people who have traditionally had minimal say” (Feldman, 2003, 110). Doing this requires designers to consider communities as partners rather than clients and see their work as a collective endeavor rather than a professional gift. At Iowa State University, faculty in multiple departments are using partnership-based outreach methods to generate disciplinary and trans-disciplinary projects engaging studio teaching, research, and scholarship. Critical to these projects is the idea that partnership inverts the traditional power relationship between designers and underserved communities by valuing local knowledge equally with professional design skills. In these relationships, designers and design students bring important abilities to visualize alternatives and synthesize diverse types of knowledge to the table. Community partners bring equally valuable knowledge about history and place that the designers would be unable to access without local partners. This symposium will begin with a PechaKucha-style overview of panelists’ work followed by an interactive session in which panelists and audience members will collaboratively shift relationships to create new knowledge by examining a contemporary issue from multiple points of view. The underlying premise of this session is that spatial design is an instrumental praxis that can shape and potentially transform reality (Allen, 1999, 50). Doing so effectively requires dealing with instrumental tools such as function and materiality and understanding the broader context of social, economic, and political relationships that create place and can effectively only be accessed through local partnerships.


Copyright 2014 The Environmental Design Research Association. Posted with Permission.

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The Environmental Design Research Association



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