Why designing for equity is good business

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Cities in the US are surging with growth, and formerly neglected neighborhoods are now booming with real estate investment. Fresh infusions of capital are bringing new amenities, public space developments, infrastructure improvements and ever-rising rents.

It’s a common misperception that communities and developers can’t get along, but it is true that trust has been noticeably absent from the urban redevelopment space. Through our recent work with the Lowline in NYC, Openbox is exploring how new projects might help to address the intersectional needs of today’s communities.

But development projects don’t exist in isolation—they’re part of neighborhood ecosystems. And failure to include communities has devastating results for both residents and builders alike. Vulnerable residents and small businesses often wonder if they will be represented at the decision-making table. People worry that, if not at the table, they might wind up on the menu. Gentrification-fueled animosity has communities protesting, vandalizing and blocking new construction sites.

In talking with community leaders, we learned that people are not against development writ large. What they are opposed to is development that subtracts value from the people living there. People simply want the things that come into their neighborhood to have some benefit to them. This means more than asking for their opinion at town-hall meetings. It means giving people the power to make decisions.

Engaging community early and authentically is directly related to the success of development projects. It helps build goodwill while mitigating the risks of misunderstanding and misalignment, which turns public opinion and political forces against developers. It also unlocks and catalyzes funding. And perhaps most importantly, it makes the project more resilient to changing conditions. With community insiders involved, projects will stay relevant by responding to the evolving needs and aspirations of the neighborhood.

Invitation to Bogotá

New kinds of experiences can surface new ideas for solving complex challenges. In partnership with ConicGroup, Openbox has developed an immersive design experience that is about creating the right conditions to arrive at meaningful insights.

Invitation to Bogotá

New kinds of experiences can surface new ideas for solving complex challenges. In partnership with ConicGroup, Openbox has developed an immersive design experience that is about creating the right conditions to arrive at meaningful insights.

Why designing for equity is good business

Openbox spent this year looking at the intersection of people and urban planning to find ways of making new property developments more equitable for communities.

Why designing for equity is good business

Openbox spent this year looking at the intersection of people and urban planning to find ways of making new property developments more equitable for communities.

Making time for play in 2018

The Openbox resolution for 2018? Make time for play. We created a deck of cards to do just that, and invited artist Shantell Martin to create the artwork, taking inspiration from her on how to stay curious.

Making time for play in 2018

The Openbox resolution for 2018? Make time for play. We created a deck of cards to do just that, and invited artist Shantell Martin to create the artwork, taking inspiration from her on how to stay curious.