How can different presentation, communication, and graphic techniques support (or impede) efforts to build project support among diverse individuals and groups.

Design Engagement Toolkit

This research seeks to develop an understanding of specific engagement methodologies employed by A+D firms during design. Our research, broadly, seeks to answer two questions with regards to engagement:

  • What are we (design professionals) doing, when we do engagement?
  • How can an understanding of past processes inform future engagement efforts?

Drawing on documented project experience, this research seeks to apply a rigorous and comprehensive analysis to a design process that is frequently deemed largely qualitative. We hope to identify replicable patterns and tactics that can help design teams conduct future engagement.


Public engagement, often required for public design work, has come under increasing scrutiny, as design firms (and clients) seek to create more inclusive spaces and processes. While moves towards broadening types of engagement beyond the “traditional” community presentation have been ongoing over the past decade, there remains mostly anecdotal data about the specific ways that design phase outreach actually occurs. These efforts often remain dependent on the immediate past experience and expertise of individual design professionals and clients, making it challenging for both junior staff, and less-experienced teams to conduct effective processes, or to evaluate which techniques might be appropriate for each project and phase. Further, the as pandemic has hastened the adoption of a range of new digital tools, there is a need to assess these newer virtual activities to determine if they should become part of our standard design repertoire. More broadly, a more nuanced understanding of what is involved in this type of work will allow the design community to better communicate the added value of these activities to clients and groups that might be hesitant or otherwise resistant to “engagement”.



Meet the Research Team

Trina Goodwin

Eli Mayerson

Leah Marthinsen