UACDC is focused on shaping urban design approaches to “wicked” problems―a class of problems characterized by social complexity that span disciplines and knowledge bases, and for which solutions reveal a problem’s full dimension. We have formulated eight place-building models that engage socio-environmental development challenges in watershed urbanism, low impact development, transit oriented development, big box urbanism, context-sensitive street design, the five American urbanisms, arboreal urbanism, and agricultural urbanism. They collectively yield a new ecology of the city necessary to address the greatest ongoing challenge to planning and design: design within human-dominated ecosystems.
Since most ecosystems are no longer “naturally” determined (e.g., soil, atmospheric, and riparian systems) independent of the transformative inputs from human technology, design must reconcile ecological and urban forces to achieve a sustainable energy future. While our place-building models are oxymoronic―purposefully combining seemingly opposed interests―they triangulate efforts in design, policy, and code development to facilitate learning networks among public stakeholders. We use design processes to build shared understanding and overcome obstacles to new models of development.
UACDC often works within contexts of constrained resources, so our work is dedicated to enhancing prosperity through development of new public realms in which solutions aim to be as elegant as the problems. A new prosperity, based on a triple bottom line that concurrently enhances environmental, social, and economic systems, will only come through design solutions that seek to do more. Solutions which link wealth production mechanisms to development which combines urban and ecological services….design that delivers new forms of capital and livability standards.