As planners and architects, we design the big picture and future long-term visions for our planning sites. In order to identify issues and opportunities, we engage communities with key strategies to understand their needs. Our main goal is to educate and understand the public’s view on their community from their heritage to key planning principles and the impacts of future development in their neighborhood.

Community Engagement is not just providing information – it creates a platform to solicit feedback, hear stories and understand the value of the community from those who experience it on a daily basis.

For the Southwest Neighborhood Plan completed with the District of Columbia Office of Planning, our team developed a number of engagement tools to educate the public and support the planning discussion.

Visioning Session Graphic Recording

To capture the vision of the large group – our team engaged a group of 250 community members through a series of questions that were then recorded and illustrated. Graphic recording engages participants and stimulates discussion while providing an ongoing visual record of the discussion.

Post-It Comment Boards

We have learned that some in the public are not comfortable sharing ideas in a large group setting. To engage those people – a more intimate engagement strategy evolved through Post-It Boards. A series of display boards with large questions allows community members to write their answers, post them and read what their neighbors were saying about the same issue.

Interactive Model

To understand the larger context, our team created a large scale massing model of the entire site for community members to interact with. A series of color tile chips represented design strategies and community members could place proposed sites for future amenities within their neighborhoods. These tiles help illustrate the connectivity and program elements of a neighborhood and our team documented each scenario as the community built the vision for the future.

The most important takeaway from our engagement process – we are planning and designing for the users and we want communities to design with us.