Randallstown, Maryland is an affluent African-American suburb outside Baltimore. Unfortunately, its main thoroughfare did not reflect the perception of affluence as many community members shop in surrounding affluent white communities.
The American Institute of Architects through North Carolina State University offered a one week Urban Design Assistance Team (UDAT) to engage with the community and collaboratively revitalize the town core to be in alignment with the aspirations of the community. Trope Collaborative was asked to participate and also to develop a way to digitally document the week and the final recommendations.
Methods & Practices
Based on my initial conversations with the UDAT team lead in advance of the event and reviewing previous UDAT deliverables, we proposed rethinking the UDAT approach and suggested a wider participation of traffic engineers as well as breaking the UDAT team into three specific groups : design, policy and land use. I also developed a plan to document in real time which allowed me to develop an interactive file that had all activities and recommendations completed by the end of the five day event.
At the end of each day, we would present to the team the day's activities and how it would be integrated into the final presentation - like an agile sprint. This highlighted opportunities that would not have been clear if the day was not documented and made for a more integrated UDAT story. We wrote all the content, took all the photographs and developed the information architecture and story for the final presentation.
Impact & Outcome
The day of the event, we put the interactive CD-ROMS on five Randallstown Library computers so community members could review it before the main presentation. The proposed findings on an interactive CD-ROM made visible the UDAT methods which was presented to the community and officials from the town, Prince Georges County and State of Maryland.
Due to the documentation, Randallstown received millions of dollars of funding from the county and state that otherwise would not have been advanced to support UDAT Recommendations. They were also given to all municipal officials to take with them to review over time. The CD-ROM was recognized by the Urban Land Institute as a powerful way to package participatory design.