the Neighborhood Design Center
Project No. 3727

Build Together: Piloting a First-of-its-kind Designer in Residence Program

During the summer of 2021, and with support from the National Endowment for the Arts, Neighborhood Design Center (NDC) hosted three Designers in Residence to support community-identified public space projects in East Baltimore Neighborhoods. This initiative was an opportunity to both pilot quick-turnaround implementation and support designers from historically underrepresented backgrounds.

What We Did

  • Field Surveying
  • Community History Collection & Sharing
  • Mural Installation
  • Pop-Up Farmers Market
  • Park Design
  • Neighborhood Branding


  • New Broadway East Community Association
  • ReBUILD Johnston Square
  • Greater Greenmount Community Association


  • Morgan State University, School of Architecture and Planning
  • ReBUILD Metro
  • National Endowment for the Arts
  • The Abell Foundation
  • Gensler

The Challenge: Address challenges to implementation and systemic barriers to entering the design field.

Over the Neighborhood Design Center’s 50+ years of community-led design and planning work, we have observed shared challenges that face project partners after NDC’s typical scope of work has ended. In recent years, one that stood out was project implementation.

Through research conducted in 2015 by NDC’s AmeriCorps VISTA:

    • we identified that 37% of projects for which NDC provided pro-bono technical assistance were not implemented;

    • and that only 35% of projects for which NDC provided technical assistance were fully implemented.

We identified Build Together as an opportunity to pilot quick-turnaround implementation at existing NDC partner sites in East Baltimore. 

Build Together was also envisioned as an opportunity to address the broader organizational goal of supporting designers from historically underrepresented backgrounds. Our RFP intentionally focused on designers with experience in community work, without requiring any specifical educational certification.


The Plan: Implement creative neighborhood interventions, bolstering local identity, and bringing great community spaces to life.

Jaz Erenberg, East Baltimore Midway

Designer and muralist Jaz partnered with the East Baltimore Midway community to develop a visual identity for the neighborhood. East Baltimore Midway lacked a visually unifying factor to connect their green and community spaces. With the support of Melvin Jadulang and the Greater Greenmount Community Association, Jaz knocked on 300 doors to talk to community members about how they would describe their neighborhood and about how they believe others see Midway.

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Courtney Morgan, Broadway East

Working with Doris Terrell and the Broadway East Community Association, architectural designer Courtney developed a concept for a greenspace intervention that engaged with environmental justice and awareness in BIPOC communities, as well as a design curriculum geared toward young women of color.

Courtney’s goal was to develop a plan for occupying the green spaces alongside the existing work where the community could feel that they had input and ownership. Courtney collaborated to develop benches reminiscent of Baltimore’s historic marble stoops to be placed in green spaces at the Lillie Mae Carroll Jackson Charter School and throughout the community.

One part of the slab on each bench will be painted with a color-changing paint, designed to change color when temperatures rise above or fall below certain temperatures, alerting residents of the need to be mindful of potentially unsafe heat or cold. Courtney is working with Lillie Mae Carroll Jackson, an all-girls charter middle school, on a workshop series for the students that will teach about the built environment and advocacy.


Christina Delgado, Johnston Square 

Finally, designer and artist Christina partnered with the Johnston Square community to design and install a mural that bridges a key dividing line between the Johnston Square and Mount Vernon neighborhoods.

She jumped at the opportunity to engage the community in creating a design intervention in Johnston Square. Regina Hammond, one of the founders of ReBUILD Johnston Square, a nonprofit partnering to transform Johnston Square into a thriving and income-diverse neighborhood, was eager to partner with her for the project, an innovative gateway mural design that would bridge the neighborhoods of Mount Vernon and Johnston Square.

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“Johnston Square borders Mount Vernon, but there is a distinct line, both visually and in terms of access to resources.”

Christina Delgado, Build Together Resident

Of the three bridges that connect the communities, they decided that the mural would be best applied on the Biddle Street bridge, the largest throughway. To ensure that the community’s voices were at the center of the conversation and the work, Christina went to community meetings and held workshops for neighbors to come out and take pictures, or bring in images that represented something from the community’s present or past. As stories came to light and the community shared their voices the project became something larger.

She also delved into community history and memory to develop a pop-up farmer’s market and community day, as well as a series of community “altars” informed by residents’ stories. Telling that story has expanded to include a film created by Noisy Tenants featuring residents’ stories, a farmers market pop-up, and an event showcasing community “altars” where residents could re-imagine those important community spaces gathered from the residents’ stories and photographs. See more on the project’s Instagram account.

To learn more about this amazing project, please read our additional coverage.