Architects designing solutions that transform communities, large and small

Communities across the country are constantly changing. Often, that change brings tremendous challenges.

The trials our communities face today are stark. Right now, every county in America is experiencing an affordable housing crisis, rising inequality that creates neighborhoods with chronic and acute poverty, and a climate crisis that threatens vulnerable populations across the country. Declining public resources and a crisis in governance are paralyzing communities at a time when strategic leadership is urgently needed.

So, how do we address these issues and build healthy, durable communities for the future?

Cue R/UDAT, also known as the Regional/Urban Design Assistance Team.

For over 50 years, the R/UDAT program has worked with citizen experts at all levels to design solutions and generate creativity and new connections within a small town, a neighborhood, or a city.

Students participating in the Birmingham, Alabama R/UDAT.
Students participating in the Birmingham, Alabama R/UDAT.

For example, Birmingham, Alabama benefitted greatly from the R/UDAT program following a major tornado disaster in 2011. In just 3 years, Birmingham was building back stronger than before.  As Mayor William Bell noted, “A lot of the things that you see being implemented are because of that program, and I’m thoroughly grateful for that.”

The fundamental aspect to the R/UDAT program is also its strongest and most successful asset: convener and facilitator. R/UDAT brings people from various professions who work with the built environment together to collaborate with citizens around a shared vision. Then, they navigate the important discussions that must happen with elected officials, developers and other stakeholders to create a roadmap for solutions in the area.

Collaborative meeting with architects and community members during Birmingham, Alabama R/UDAT.
Meeting with architects and community members during Birmingham, Alabama R/UDAT.

The public service announcement, produced by the AIA’s Communities By Design, calls on architects to get involved and be a part of the solutions in their communities.