Improving Communities with Art: Implementing Sustainable Design Thinking

As I move into my final thesis year at Georgia State, I can’t help but think about the work I’ve done the last couple of years and how I want to move forward with my research. I’ve realized that I have a strong passion for working with supergraphics, while helping community to connect people and place.

Currently, my thesis reads like this:
Repurposing abandoned buildings between ownership by means of visual, audio, and/or other supergraphic design implementations should increase community engagement and connect people and place while discouraging issues like crime, pollution, etc. that result from forgotten spaces.

Some really interesting civic projects that I have studied as case studies for my own work include Candy Chang’s work in New Orleans, Tyree Guyton’s work in Detroit, and the Highline in New York City. These projects are becoming more important, especially when the economy is down and abandoned buildings and vacant lots are rising. Communities become victim to pollution and crime when property owners can not take care of their lots. Buildings in particular quickly fall apart and decay when left alone.

Candy Chang’s Before I die…

Tyree Guyton’s Heidelberg Project

New York City High Line Project


Candy Chang inspires urban development by enabling community

Candy Chang is an installation artist, urban planner, and designer whose mission is to make cities more comfortable for people. She is also a co-founder of Civic Center, a New Orleans based – civic design studio that strives to build helpful communities in New Orleans. Much of her current work is inspired from community insight of abandoned or lost buildings in the city. How could the spaces be improved for the people that live, work, and play here now?

What I have found interesting about Chang ‘s work is that she enables the community of New Orleans to voice their desires about urban planning in their city. How does she do it? That is a very good question. Many of her projects open up communication and create a public dialogue between designers and the community. Chang often poses what is seemingly research techniques as installation art itself in public spaces. Let’s look at some examples of her work.

How might a similar process for enabling community and providing a more comfortable city function in a city like Atlanta? It seems plausible that using a similar approach and technique as Chang but changing the city (to Atlanta) and changing the people (who live near the abandoned space) would in fact, vary the results of new design and urban planning drastically.