About the CDRC



The Community Design Research Center at the University of Virginia is dedicated to pushing the boundaries of design and planning—using trans-disciplinary research to address the wicked problems facing the 21st century. These issues—including poverty, population change, income and health disparities, environmental degradation, racism, and shifting political paradigms and territories —affect billions of people worldwide, are often generational, and do not lend themselves to singular technical or policy solutions. The CDRC is pioneering design and planning research methodologies that advance innovative thinking, spatial strategies, and tactics for collaboration.

Said simply, CDRC works toward the prevention and solution of systemic challenges through place.

The Work

Our research focuses on one central theme: the [re] shaping of communities to be healthy, resilient, and generative.

The Center supports this theme at multiple scales, in various contexts. This diversity of interventions lends itself to a knowledge production and application that is inductive and deductive. The four disciplines of the School of Architecture—architecture, architectural history, landscape architecture, urban and environmental planning—as well as faculty and students from other schools at the University, and community members work together to bring new ways of conceptualizing and implementing solutions to problems facing society.

Areas of Research and Interventions


If the 2nd millennium was defined by dichotomies—urban vs. rural, 1st world vs. 3rd world, industrialized vs. non-industrialized, shrinking vs. expanding, North vs. South—the 3rd millennium will be characterized by morphologies. Shifts in climate, population, natural resources, infrastructures, territories and economies will yield new patterns of settlement. Over an extended timeframe, cities will expand, contract, and expand again.

This research will focus on the design and planning of adaptable (flexile) regions, cities, communities, and neighborhoods to accommodate the inevitable changes of the next thousand years.

  • Arctic Initiative
  • Southwest Virginia (Appalachian Prosperity Project and CRVI)


The changing global workforce and workspace necessitates a better understanding of the behavior and condition of an existing system (material microstructure, base industry, worker skill-set), to discover the latent potential and the complementary relationship. This research takes advantage of expertise within and outside the university to explore a new role for designers, planners, and historians in preserving and advancing the manufacturing economy to take advantage of place from multiple vantage points to fortify the growing national and international imperative to make dormant cities work.

  • Design Driven Manufacturing
  • BitteràSweet: New Prospects for Sugar in Cuba
  • The Geography of Work


The global community be it a mega-city or rural byway is the product of the milieu of economic, political, social, and environmental forces that define boundaries, access, and sustenance. This research identifies the interrelationship of the variables and the necessary process for change that lead to transformation of the urban form.

  • Projecting Petersburg
  • Wild Lands: Future Ground of NOLA

The Community Design and Research Center