Design for Equity

ABX hosts a two-day curriculum exploring design and equity.

Day One
Tuesday, 8:00 AM – 3:45 PM
DFE: Design for Equity Curriculum
$35 *Design for Equity endeavors to be accessible to all. If cost is a barrier to attendance, please contact Elliya Cutler at for scholarship opportunities.

Design for Equity is a day-long curriculum exploring how racial and social inequity are manifested in urban planning and the built environment, and the tools designers and practitioners can develop to promote more just and inclusive communities.

This topic has never been more salient for the City of Boston. The Mayor’s Office of Resilience and Racial Equity, supported through the work of the 100 Resilient Cities Initiative, recently declared racial inequity as a pressing resilience issue facing the city. In October, this group will be making recommendations to the Mayor, and moving into a next phase of implementation.

The Design for Equity curriculum addresses the history and legacy of racial inequity in the built environment as created through urban design, zoning, policy, planning, and financing.  The day will feature leading practitioners and academics on equity and the built environment, who will explore how design and planning can promote racial equity through existing processes, and perhaps reveal new approaches to our work. Participants will cultivate new ways to think about the roles that private, public and community stakeholders can play in achieving more equitable outcomes in their work.

The learning from the day will be developed and tested through a hands-on application at the Design for Equity charrette the following day.

The Design for Equity curriculum includes:

Welcome and Opening Remarks: (8:30 AM – 9:00 AM)
Tamara Roy, Principal, Stantec; 2016 BSA President
Katie Swenson, Vice President for National Design Initiatives, Enterprise Community Partners
Atyia Martin, Chief Resilience Officer, City of Boston

Keynote: (9:00 AM – 9:45 AM)
Hyeok Kim, Deputy Mayor of the City of Seattle

Truth and Reconciliation: Owning Our History (10:00 AM – 10:30 PM)
Speaker: Alex Von Hoffman, Senior Fellow, Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University

Inequity Meets the Ground: Local Stories (10:30 AM – Noon)
Moderator: Ceasar McDowell, Professor of the Practice of Community Development, MIT
Jim Vrabel, author, A People’s History of the New Boston
Iván Espinoza Madrigal, Executive Director, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Economic Justice
Suzanne Lee, educator, Boston Public Schools; community leader
​Additional panelists TBA

Lunch (12:00 PM - 1:00 PM)

The State of Equity: What Does Current Data Say? (1:05 PM – 1:30 PM)
Speaker: Alvaro Lima, Director of Research, Boston Planning and Development Agency

Designing for Equity: Taking Action (Pecha Kucha Presentations) (1:30 PM – 3:30 PM)

Presentation block one: Bringing equity to our profession
Dana McKinney, MArch/MUP student, African American Student Union, Harvard Graduate School of Design
Kordae Henry, Associate Designer, MASS Design Group

Presentation block two: Changing processes and conversations
Allan Co, Enterprise Rose Fellow
Braden Crooks, Co-Founder, Designing the WE
Quilian Riano, Founder and Principal of DSGN AGNC

Presentation block three: Systemic change
Emmanuel Pratt, Loeb Fellow; Executive Director, Sweet Water Foundation
Ayako Maruyama, Creativity Lab Design Lead, DS4SI (Design Studio for Social Intervention)

Closing Remarks: Katie Swenson, Vice President for National Design Initiatives, Enterprise Community Partners

Day Two
Wednesday, 3:00 PM – 6:00 PM
DC1: Design for Equity Charrette

The Design for Equity Charrette will now take place in room 52B.

Boston has a long history of bold planning, and a recent practice of parcel-by-parcel development. Meanwhile, the city - and the region - are experiencing an extraordinary moment of growth in private investment and industry, along with renewed efforts in city-wide planning. Whether considering housing and mobility or arts and culture and global climate change, challenges consistently fall along socioeconomic, racial and ethnic lines - disproportionately and negatively impacting communities of color. How might growth and development improve racial equity and urban resilience for all residents of Boston - and the region?

Please join leaders of the Rockefeller Foundation's 100 Resilient Cities project, City of Boston Harvard Mellon Urban Initiative, Enterprise Community Partners, Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies, Mel King Institute, Boston NAACP, and BSA Foundation for a charrette about social and racial equity in the 21st century city.

The charrette will specifically address affordable housing, open space, and mobility, and their intersections with equity. The charrette endeavors to create an “Equity Checklist” as a tool for planning processes, which can be used by designers to have equity be an outcome of the design process. The charrette will use the Fairmount corridor as a means to focus this work.

ABX hosts forums for addressing the most critical issues facing Boston’s community.