Engaging Design: A Ground-Up Approach to Building Community


December 16, 2014
9:00AM - 4:00PM


1 Beacon Street
Boston, MA


Amber Christoffersen and Rashmi Ramaswamy, Enterprise Community Partners

On average, 70 percent of the key decisions about environmental sustainability, community engagement and health impacts are made within the first 10 percent of the design process. This workshop will focus on this phase and specifically on design strategies, workshops and programs that have garnered support for affordable housing and broader community development initiatives.

Though case studies from Boston and around the country, the workshop seeks to answer these questions: How can design be used as a tool to increase community buy-in and create housing and community spaces that reflect local culture and sense of place? What are creative strategies in the conceptual/pre-development phase that will contribute to the long-term success of neighborhood development efforts? What expertise is necessary to implement these strategies? 

About the Instructors:

Amber Christoffersen directs existing and emerging programs of Enterprise's Design Initiatives to produce well-designed, sustainable communities across the nation. She developed and manages the first-ever Pre-Development Design Grant, a grant program that provides funding and technical assistance to community developers. Amber coordinates the Affordable Housing Design Leadership Institute and has produced several design toolkits and case studies, informed by her experience facilitating more than 15 design charrettes across the country. She holds a Masters Degree in Landscape Architecture from The University of Georgia and a Bachelors Degree in Economics from The College of William and Mary. 

Rashmi Ramaswamy is co‐founder of SHED Studio, a mission‐driven architectural & sustainable design collaborative in Boston and Chicago. She has a deep background in participatory design, arts-based activism and civic engagement pertaining to environmental advocacy, community building and the social safety net. Rashmi is a registered architect and a LEED accredited professional. At SHED Studio and at her previous employment, Rashmi has been involved in several projects for not-for-profit clients including housing and services for the homeless, community centers, affordable housing, daycare facilities and various projects for start-up entrepreneurs in the green business sector. These projects have given her an understanding of the complicated process involved in securing funding and working with City and other regulatory agencies, as well as hands-on experience with integrating sustainable initiatives into projects at the community level. She has also facilitated several design/build apprenticeship and educational programs for youth and interfaced with workforce development programs for adults. She has recently launched SHEDx, a civic engagement platform combining design tools with art inquiries and digital civic technology to enable increased local community participation.

Registration deadline: 

Friday, December 12, 2014

Registration fee: 

$100, $50 Student/Americorps

Type of event: 

MKI Training

Learning area: 

Commun. Org. & Planning