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Crossroads is an exploration into the role micro organizations (1-10 people) that leverage design play within the greater urbanism field. At large, this research serves to build synergies between creative practitioners within or adjacent to the urbanism field, while providing insights and resources both from a philosophical and operational perspective.

The research aims to think expansively about the definition of what design means, mainly conceptualizing design as a way of thinking and process. Using a case study approach, the investigation brings together the voices of six micro organizations based in the United States including BlackSpace Urbanist Collective, JIMA Studio, Broad Community Connections, The Design Studio for Social Intervention, Civic Studio, and Hector Design. Each conversation dives into the nuance of each organization’s foundations, process, and vision for the future. In understanding each group’s internal organizational practices, we begin to uncover the possibilities and challenges of practicing at this scale. At large, the findings lead me to believe that such organizations serve as the instigators and experimenters within the greater urbanism ecosystem.

This research was developed by Mel Isidor, for her degree of Master in City Planning at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). At large, her research seeks to contribute robust thought leadership to the academy while presenting the information in an accessible format that is legible for diverse audiences.


United States
Mel Isidor (researcher)
Holly Harriel, DUSP, MIT (Advisor)
Darien Alexander Williams, DUSP, MIT (Reader)
MIT Department of Urban Studies and Planning
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Preserving African American Places: Growing Preservation's Potential as a Path for Equity

Preserving African American Places seeks to understand the implications of place-based injustice and their impact on the preservation of African American cultural heritage, as well as to identify preservation-based strategies for equitable growth and development that respect the historical and present-day realties and conditions of African American Neighborhoods.


Perspectives of Neighborhood Change: Case Studies

In the summer of 2018, ten students at universities across the United States were selected as AACHAF Research Fellows and were commissioned to research and write essays on neighborhood change and historic preservation in ten study cities.