We design for better urban living

We believe in a balanced and equitable approach to design and development, where communities have an active voice in shaping projects and benefit from their outcomes.

By channeling the powerful inputs of residents, cities, designers, and businesses, we can build urban ecosystems that are sustainable, resilient, and prosperous in the face of crisis—securing better urban living for all.

Our process starts by taking the time to include all stakeholders in shaping the project approach. Using quantitative and qualitative methods, we engage with communities to learn from their hyperlocal expertise. We prototype and refine these learnings into community-driven design solutions, often with partners in architecture, planning, and design. By grounding projects in community relationships, we can ensure a project’s long-term success.


Qualitative and Quantitative
Community Research
Ethnographic Research
Prototyping + Validation
Community Co-creation
Future Scenarios

Project types

Architecture & Planning
Urban Development
Public Space Studies
Environmental Design
Experience Design
Service Design
Organizational Design
Communication Design

Design outcomes

Insights and Opportunities
Design Guidelines
Design Concepts and Direction
Service Blueprints

The story of our name

Openbox takes its name from the story of Henry “Box” Brown, a man who escaped slavery in 1849 by mailing himself to freedom. Henry used one nationally-run system—the US Postal Service—to subvert another: the nationally-oppressive system of slavery. At Openbox, we remain in awe of his creative bravery and inspiring life story.

The story illustrated in Henry's Freedom Box, a book by Kadir Nelson and Ellen Levine