Community-engaged design is not new to the Interior Architecture department nor to UNCG. Dating back at least to the 1958 Commencement House, students at UNCG have been designing and building projects in and around Greensboro and around the world. Recent research and design project initiatives include North Carolina Main StreetTiny Houses Greensboro, Collaborative Cottage Grove, Amadi Way, Black Diamond Urban Farm, and Peace Haven Farms. Past projects include Global Studio’s building a school in Ghana and the work of Urban Studio. Urban Studio 01 designed and constructed a single-family home at 919 Dillard Street, and Urban Studio 02 designed and constructed a facility of small suites for homeless teenage mothers. Other projects include Salvation Army Select, the Vance Chavis Library project,Greensboro Children’s Museum project, and a myriad of smaller design-build projects.

UNCG has a history of innovation in the design, construction, and management of single-family residences, too. The Commencement Houses of 1958, ‘59 and ‘65 developed by students in the School of Home Economics at Woman’s College provide early examples of innovation by students at UNCG. The Center for Community-Engaged Design will continue this tradition at a critical time in the history of UNCG. As UNCG expands into the Glenwood neighborhood with the Spartan Village Phases I and II projects, there is a great opportunity for meaningful community engagement through models of sustainable community design/build. In addition, there is a great potential for interdisciplinary research and projects to come from this initiative.

While these projects have benefited students, faculty, and communities near and far, the projects have not been sustained through long-term planning and funding. The nature of the Center for Community-Engaged Design is to provide a structure and support for the long-term development of a robust and sustained community-engaged design program at UNCG, modeled after existing “Community Design Centers” from around the country. The CC-ED is the first community design center in Greensboro.

The Center for Community-Engaged Design opened its doors in a dedicated new space on Gate City Blvd, just off UNCG’s main campus, that will be an incubator for these research and design projects. The dedication of this space was coordinated with the inaugural two-day Novem Mason Symposium on Community-Engaged Design and continues annually in the spring.


Travis L. Hicks, Associate Professor of Interior Architecture, is the Director of the Center for Community-Engaged Design (CC-ED) at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Hicks’s vision is of a movement that will change the face of design education and practice in ways that inspire designers to be more engaged in their own communities. Through the CC-ED he builds community partnerships that leverage the power of design in community-based projects, particularly for people who are underserved or where resources are most scarce.

A registered architect with over 15 years of professional practice experience prior to joining UNCG, Hicks pursues teaching, scholarship, and service that contribute to the livability and sustainability of the Piedmont-Triad region and partnerships that promote collaboration, interdisciplinarity, and economic development.  “Sustainable Glenwood” and the “Vance Chavis Library” project are two examples of the projects he has executed in collaboration with students, faculty, and community partners, such as Preservation Greensboro, Inc., Community Housing Solutions, and the Greensboro Public Library.