Tulane City Center’s vision for long term impact is that students will carry this learning through their careers, community partners will be well‐served by our work and empowered by the process of design, and our city will be improved through a series of thoughtful and impactful built interventions that provide momentum for informed public engagement in shaping a more equitable New Orleans.

Tulane City Center

Tulane City Center (TCC) is the community design center of Tulane School of Architecture at Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana. TCC’s work is grounded in the belief that all citizens are impacted by the built environment and have the right to participate in the decisions that shape it.

Each project at TCC begins as a proposal from a non‐profit organization and is developed by a design team of Tulane faculty and students in partnership with the organization and its constituents. Through our partner organizations, these projects contribute to a more equitable local community while training a new generation of citizen‐designers. Core to it’s identity, TCC believes that good designers are good citizens. The students learn the relevance of connecting their skills with the expertise of others and that only through true collaboration can communities create meaningful change.

Our work begins through our annual Request for Proposals (RFP), which invites organizations and community groups throughout New Orleans to submit ideas for design projects. We provide support to applicants to help develop proposals rooted in the actual desires and needs of New Orleans citizens. Projects are selected by a jury of past community partners, faculty, and professional architects who weigh impact and feasibility alongside learning objectives and creative potential. Projects are advanced through thoughtful collaboration and engagement with stakeholders and experts, both within and outside the university. We use academic readings, expert interviews, and conversations to frame the issues for our students and work to develop engagement models tailored to the partners’ needs, a process that requires frequent input from partner organizations and their constituents.

 

Results

Over the past decade, the Tulane City Center has advanced over 85 projects all with community partners traditionally underserved by the design professions. This includes 25 built projects that have been constructed through our design/build programs. Because of the variety of projects undertaken – from simple shade structures in public parks to the organizational home of Grow Dat Youth Farm – and the outward‐facing models of the majority of our community partners, we estimate a direct impact on several thousand users. 60% of applying graduate students list Tulane City Center as a reason for choosing Tulane for their architecture degree. Student feedback notes that our Build courses allow them the opportunity to put their design educations into action, in service to our community.

While more difficult to quantify, indirect impact is felt through our innovative approach to project selection and foregrounding of community members as clients, through students who gain experience in designing and building with community based organizations, as well as by developing an understanding of materiality and construction for young designers.

 

How can people get involved in or replicate your innovation?

Partner Organizations: Our annual Request for Proposals and other opportunities to get involved are posted publicly in New Orleans and are available at http://www.tulanecitycenter.org/howtoapply/.

Students: Tulane School of Architecture students can apply to work with us as interns and summer fellows or engage through courses within the curriculum. Students from other departments are engaged in project‐based work specific to their expertise.

Visitors: Events in our Baronne Street Storefront are free and open to the public. To see upcoming events at the Storefront, view the TCC Events Calendar.

 

Contact information

Maggie Hansen
Director, Tulane City Center
baronne@tulane.edu | 504‐314‐2330

Cordes Innovation Awards

In partnership with Cordes Foundation, Ashoka U seeks to recognize globally relevant teaching, learning, and partnership practices that may be adapted and replicated across the field.

2016