Seven Steps to Improve Communities
Illustration: Lauren Nassef | Art Direction: Jelena Schulz

AIA Austin’s DesignVoice is a community outreach committee that leverages partnerships to make real impacts in the surrounding area. Using the steps that led to the design of a new bus stop shelter in an underserved neighborhood, we illustrate how communities everywhere can be strengthened by collaborative architecture.

Identify a need. We discovered that more than 100 of Austin’s bus stops with high ridership were shelterless.

Work with community partners. A partnership with Capital Metro, Austin’s transit provider, led to a design competition.

Create the opportunity. More than 30 architects, landscape architects, engineers, and bus riders participated in a design charrette; six of the designs were submitted for final review.

Document the project. Before the competition began, the winning team—local landscape professionals Sara Partridge and Melissa Henao-Robledo—entered into a formal agreement to design and build the bus stop shelter.

Facilitate action. The design team is using a crowdfunding partner (and a generous contribution from Capital Metro) to reach its goals.

Share your story. With assistance from the staff at AIA Austin, DesignVoice has used social media, AIA newsletters, and conferences to help architects realize how they can give back locally.

Repeat, learn, evolve, grow. Gather feedback once the design is complete and the project is finished; let your process evolve as new stakeholders and different community needs arise.