AIA Detroit is pleased to announce the launch of a new K-8 education outreach program, designed to provide students in underserved areas of Detroit with principles of design thinking, and engage them in the planning process for the communities in which they live. Architecture Building Communities: Detroit [ABC:D], recipient of the 2017 AIA National / Armstrong Foundation Education Grant, is a pilot collaboration between AIA Detroit, Cranbrook Art Museum & Academy—a world-renowned institution with a rich architectural legacy and a pioneering collegiate architecture curriculum—and The Center for Success (C4S), a nonprofit organization committed to impacting youth in underserved areas through education and exposure to social interactions and activities.

ABC:D is a program designed by Cranbrook’s Curator of Education, Kelly Lyons, to engage youth in the planning process in their community, providing architecture and planning mentors to work with teams of students at the Center for Success Detroit (CFS). Over the 10-week course of the program, which will serve up to 80 K-8 students from CFS, students will

1) visit a community within the City of Detroit that is currently undergoing or scheduled to undergo planning and design work resulting in community driven neighborhood framework plans,
2) create, discuss, and refine their own design proposals for the community, and
3) present their ideas to a panel of invited community members, AIA Detroit leadership, professionals from architecture and planning, and public officials.

In consultation with the City of Detroit Planning and Development Department, the focus of the design project¬†will be on the Islandview neighborhood, an area identified as a key neighborhood within the City’s strategic framework.

The AIA Detroit Architecture Building Communities program is made possible thanks to the generous support of The Architects Foundation and Armstrong World Industries Foundation K-8 Architecture & Design Education Grant. Interested in supporting this important initiative? Reach out to us at for more details on sponsorship opportunities.


Week 1: Introduction + Brainstorming
Week 1 (Friday): Field trip to site
Week 2: Case studies
Week 3: Designing community spaces
Week 4: Designing a gathering space
Week 5: Adaptive reuse
Week 6: Adaptive reuse project
Week 7: Proposing a new building
Week 8: Designing a new building
Week 9: Streetscape design
Week 10: Presentations
Final Presentation Day


Questions? Reach out to us at