Co-designing a social gathering space for the African American Art and Culture Complex.
As apart of a year long initiative, The African American Arts and Culture Complex (AAACC) worked with a team of architects and interaction design students at the California College of the Arts to co-design a parklet.
The AAACC's mission is to nurture and facilitate the empowerment of San Francisco's black community through Afro-centric artistic and cultural expression, mediums, education, and programming.
The parklet amplifies the mission of the AAACC by driving awareness of the programming inside the building and by serving as a social gathering space.
Vanessa Slavich (IxD), Shiv Kehr (IxD), Aditi Mathur (IxD), Louise Laub (IxD), Katie Jacquez (IxD), Georgia Came (Arch), Tetiana Muraviova (Arch)
Kristian Simsarian, Christina Tran, Alexander Baumgardt
Impact Award : $10,000
Community Challenge Grant: $36,000
“My prediction is 10 years from now, we won’t have 20,000 blacks in this city,”
- Rev. Amos C. Brown via The New York Times
The Fillmore was once known as the Harlem of the West. In the 40s and 50s it was home to thriving minority-owned restaurants, theaters, shops and nightclubs. In 1963 a redevelopment plan affected 13,000 Fillmore residents when 60 square blocks were demolished. Within two decades, the stores, restaurants and apartment buildings were gone and the African American population shrunk from 13% in the 1970's to less than 3% today.
LOW AWARENESS OF AAACC
The AAACC holds more black arts companies than any other building in San Francisco yet few passerby's are aware the building and the programming inside.
Working with the community, we co-created a social gathering space inside and outside of the AAACC. We collected feedback throughout the process through interviews, community events, and feedback forms. This feedback was used to inform the final prototypes, which included an architectural rendering, a model and a full scale prototype made of plywood, corrugated plastic and paper.
THE FELLOWSHIP PROGRAM
To design something that would meet the needs of the community, we needed to work closely with the community. Using the funds awarded by the Impact Award, we launched a fellowship program and began working with youth that knew the AAACC much better than we did.
We partnered with 5 fellows who work within the teen program Project Level. Over the course of 8 weeks we worked with them throughout the design thinking process. We conducted research and synthesis, built prototypes and hosted community events to get feedback.
Generative and evaluative research was gathered with three groups: people who work in the building, people who visit the building, and residents who live in the nearby blocks. Our research methods included one-on-one interviews, online feedback forms, in person surveys, dot voting and community events.
Our research goal was to understand the needs of the community around social spaces.
WE HEARD FROM
“These few blocks need some places for community interaction”
“If you are just walking down the street you could walk by [the AAACC] and not know this was here.”
“[The parklet] has to exceed the value of a parking space.”
“It brings people together. It’s not about the thing, it’s about the conversation.”
For the prototyping phase, each fellow owned a concept. We started with mood boards and then built prototypes with business origami, architectural legos and cardboard prototypes. Back in the studio, we translated the feedback we received on the early prototypes into a large scale prototype made of plywood cut on the CNC router and on the laser cutter.