Building Resilience Through Participatory Design

Thursday, November 1, 2018, 1:45-3:15pm

This paper will provide insight into the methods and principles that we have co-created with diverse community partners through place-making projects and urban prototyping. This work frames new discussions about the role of design in imagining new relationships and forms of resilience. It will show innovative approaches to incorporating academic teaching within a practice-research model; how we establish trusting relationships with community stakeholders and as a result gain foundation support to extend the work; and how communities are mobilized and engaged to be true partners.


Nils Gore is a licensed architect and a Professor in the Architecture Department at the University of Kansas, where he focuses on community engaged scholarship through completion of student design/build projects in the public realm. These projects include work in Mississippi, Lawrence, New Orleans and, most lately, Wyandotte County, Kansas. In all of these projects, he works with students to develop innovative material and tectonic design solutions that enhance and support an enriched community life for those that dwell in the community. The work in Wyandotte is focused on projects that promote public health through healthy eating and active living and is supported by external funding from the Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City and the Wyandotte Health Foundation.



Shannon Criss is a licensed architect and an Associate Professor in the Architecture Department at the University of Kansas. Through her work at KU she is able to bring focus to community engagement processes and service learning opportunities to create an architecture that serves the greater good. The endeavor requires that we think beyond the singular architectural object and develop deep, long-term, loose-fitting principles to guide the work we do as architects; developing strategies that make the architectural object the right fit, for many people, for a long time. In order to be effective, this premise requires collaborative thought and work, where students identify and examine ideas driven by their empathy for others’ needs and their own natural curiosity to explore and offer new insight to a given problem, with the premise that good design is enduring design. Through externally funded research projects that incorporate design courses, she is able to engage urban communities of need in Wyandotte County. Shannon believes that by meeting people where they are, “these real-world experiences enhance the student perspective on what can be achieved when working with community insight as a guide to plausible, well-designed solutions.” Shannon is a strong advocate to help students see their role as agents to connecting communities with design that promote environmental sustainability, social equity and community resilience.