Architecture and Advocacy

Architecture and Advocacy

Current Project


Designers are storytellers. Whether it is a sculpture, a building or a website, artists, architects, and designers dictate the stories that become woven into the physical environment. But what happens when the people designing are not representative of the people being designed for? What happens when a community’s stories do not get the chance to be visualized? Unfortunately, professional design practices do not reflect the diversity of society (for instance, 0.2% of licensed architects are black women), and rarely do they empower those whose stories are marginalized.

Yet powerful designers exist in the margins, outside professional practices, where they create beautiful graffiti murals or vibrant community spaces. Many of these creators do not have the resources or knowledge-base to pursue a future in professional design, and this issue is pervasive in neighborhoods surrounding USC. Architecture and Advocacy: Design Charrettes for South L.A. Youth increases access to arts, architecture, and design collegiate programs for students in Central Los Angeles, and thereby increases the representation of systematically-marginalized peoples– specifically BIPOC and low-income– in design professions.

To achieve this goal, students within the USC School of Architecture are partnering with youth art organization LA Commons to host a series of cost-free design charrettes for local high school artists, in addition to larger charrettes for the whole community. The design charrettes facilitate the development of problem-solving skills and creative design solutions to address the problems students face personally and in their communities.


  • Inspires local students to consider design professions as future careers and equips them with the skills to do so
  • Increases representation of Black and Latinx people in professional design careers and college programs
  • Emphasizes design as a tool for advancing equity and positive social change