Don’t be a dick.
For some, it’s a motto to live by. One New York City–based nonprofit would like architects to design by it, too.
The Center for Urban Pedagogy (CUP) teamed up with the Equity Collective—Christine Gaspar, executive director of CUP; Theresa Hwang, founder and director of Department of Places; and Liz Ogbu, founder and principal of Studio O—and illustrator Ping Zhu to produce Dick & Rick: A Visual Primer for Social Impact Design, a gently didactic pictorial for architects on the dos and don’ts of community-engaged design.
As their names suggest, Dick is the Goofus to Rick’s Gallant. The 15-page spread walks readers through the design process in each architect’s respective office: In a stroll around the neighborhood, Rick spies a flier for a community meeting about parks, and wonders if he could lend his skills to the project. Dick reads a news piece about the same initiative and, pen aloft, offers help to “them.”
Channeling Howard Roark, Dick does a site analysis himself and holds perfunctory public meetings where he explains his ideas to residents, with no space for feedback. Rick, in contrast, lives the principles of socially-engaged architecture by collaborating with stakeholders over a sustained period to discuss how the park should be designed and programmed.
Readers familiar with social impact design are vindicated when Dick’s park is nice, but devoid of visitors while Rick’s park is nice and a hit with residents.
The Equity Collective believes that art can spur effective citizen engagement and that, if done right, social justice is integral to great design. Take their advice and don’t be a Dick.