City Design Center Overview
interactive websites charting community assets Community Design Excellence curriculum support public forums participants
As of December 2010, the City Design Center is no longer active. This website remains available for information purposes.
Content from this website may be used only with permission from the Center's Director Emeritus, Roberta Feldman. Please email the center at
College of Architecture and the Arts
The University of Illinois at Chicago








Site Design: George Gabriel, Alumnus of UIC School of Art and Design

City Design Center

Founded in 1995, the City Design Center is a multi-disciplinary research, education, and service program in the College of Architecture and the Arts at the University of Illinois at Chicago. The Center’s mission is the study and practice of design in the public interest. The Center’s work is founded on the idea that the quality of the built urban environment – from the fixtures, furnishings, and buildings that house them, to the streets, plazas and parks that surround them, to the resulting spatial form of the overall community – is intrinsic to the vitality and diversity of the city’s cultural, economic, and political life. To meet this challenge, the Center develops and advocates for innovative and effective design research and practices by providing information to improve the quality of design decisions.

The Center’s work is accomplished through cross-disciplinary collaborations among faculty and students in architecture and urban design, urban planning, history and culture of cities, public and community art, environmental graphic design, industrial design, historic preservation, and other relevant design disciplines and professions. The Center emphasizes applying research and educational programs to design ideas and practices, and prototypic and demonstration projects to explore design innovation in support of its social agenda.

The City Design Center supports:
• multi-disciplinary research projects initiated by faculty or in response to solicitations by foundations, government agencies, and non-profit organizations;
• technical assistance through partnerships with community groups in response to requests by community development corporations and other non-profit organizations, most often in low income communities where such design services typically are not available; and
• public education through lectures, workshops, symposia, and Internet websites addressed to local, national, and international audiences of academics, professionals, government officials, and concerned citizens.

The Center aims to provide opportunities for students to learn and gain hands-on experience through work on actual projects with community clients. Through these projects, students from various design disciplines make linkages among theory, practice, and social interests while learning about each others’ professions.

From January 1998 through May 2000, the Center completed more than 30 projects with more than 30 community partners and public agencies. It has added two new program areas - Design Matters and Charting Community Assets - to its original four program areas – Imagebase, Community Design Excellence, CityLab, and Conferences and Exhibits (now called Public Forums); and it has expanded on its curriculum development program to add coursework in addition to the CityLab.
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