Community Design Collaborative: Letter from the director

Dear GRID Reader,

The Community Design Collaborative, like you, believes in building communities with strong futures. In 1991, a group of dedicated and self-described “anarchist architects” created the Collaborative to meet a critical need. In the 20 years since then, we have helped community organizations imagine their highest hopes for their neighborhoods.

The Collaborative specializes in transforming the kinds of places that knit people together –schools, stores, parks, community centers, streetscapes, and housing. As our name suggests, the Community Design Collaborative works collaboratively. We collaborate with community development corporations, civic associations, social service agencies and other non-profits who serve neighborhoods. We bring all the stakeholders together, public and private. The designs that have emerged are as diverse as our clients’ visions.

Many of the Collaborative’s clients serve low- and moderate-income communities, and do so with limited resources. Fortunately, the needs of our clients have always been met by the generosity of many of Philadelphia’s finest designers. Since 1991, the Collaborative staff, its board and advisory council have attracted more than a thousand volunteers, who’ve donated more than 100,000 hours of care and creativity on 600 projects.

Collaborating with communities, our volunteer architects, engineers, planners and cost estimators do the design legwork needed to move ahead: conceptual drawings to reach consensus; building assessments to prove that ideas are feasible; and expert estimates to attract funding. Together, we create the foundations on which dreams are built.

In this special section we share a small sample of our projects: to inspire your sustainability efforts in own neighborhood, and to invite you to consider collaborating with us.

Beth Miller
Executive Director, Community Design Collaborative

To learn how the Collaborative designs sustainable neighborhoods, please visit