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Academic Period
The history of community design can be broken up into three eras: the Idealistic Period, the Pragmatic Period, and the Academic Period. Loosely described in Sheri Blake’s ‘Redefining Community Design’ and in Donovan Finn and Jason Brody’s “The State of Community Design: An Analysis of Community Design Center Services,” the current Academic Period began in the late 1990s. During this era, Community design centers became embedded in academic institutions, and the model experienced renewed interest with younger generations who increasingly value organizing and social change.


Battery Park City Authority
The Battery Park City Authority is a New York State public benefit corporation that was created in 1968 to plan, create, and coordinate a balanced community of commercial, residential, and park space within its 92-acre site adjoining the World Trade Center. Its strong financial circumstances makes it a lucrative partner for collaborations.
Benign Neglect
Benign neglect is a term coined by Nixon advisor of urban affairs Daniel Patrick Moynihan to reduce racial tensions in the US by taking a “do nothing” approach to the issue.
Black nationalism
Originally inspired by the Haitian Revolution, Black Nationalism advocates for black pride, self-determination, and economic independence. Marcus Garvey’s Universal Negro Improvement Association is a notable example of the Black Nationalist movement.
Board of Estimate
The New York City Board of Estimate was the government agency established in 1898 responsible for municipal policy including city contracts, land use decisions, city’s budget, and water rates. The body was found unconstitutional by the Supreme Court and dissolved in 1990.


Chicago School of Sociology
The Chicago school of sociology refers to a pedagogical approach that emphasizes empirical research as the key to understanding social phenomena. This approach pioneered research methods like field studies and interviews with communities to better understand social change, culture, and health.
City Planning Commission
New York City’s City Planning Commission was originally created in the 1936 Charter with the express purpose of developing a master plan for the city. The commission is responsible for the city’s orderly growth and its accommodation of resources.
Civil Rights Movement
The Civil Rights Movement was a social movement in the 1950s and 1960s that aimed to abolish legalized racial segregation, discrimination, and disenfranchisement in the United States following years of nonviolent resistance and civil disobedience.
Common Man
The common man is a term historically used to describe an ordinary person who does not have significant social status or titles.
Community Boards
New York City is home to fifty-nine community boards appointed by borough presidents. They advise on local land-use and zoning, participate in the city’s budgeting, and the deployment of city’s services.
Community Design Center
Community Design Centers are often nonprofit, community-based organizations that empower local communities to shape their own environment. They provide technical assistance and design expertise to communities that otherwise lack resources.
Community Development
Community Development is a process and a discipline that promotes a bottom-up, collective approach to solving common problems faced by communities.
Community Development Corporation model
Community Development Corporations are nonprofit, community-driven organizations tasked with revitalizing communities. This model is most often associated with the development of affordable housing.
Community Land Trusts
Community land trusts are nonprofit corporations that own land on behalf of the regional communities they serve. It is a form of land ownership that secures future affordability of housing or commercial spaces by removing it from the speculative market.
Cooperative Extension Service
The Cooperative Extension Service (CES) is an educational program funded by the USDA to empower and educate farmers, ranchers, and communities to adapt to new technologies and improvements in nutrition and safety.


Defensive Architecture
Defensive architecture, also referred to as hostile architecture, is a term used for the design of public spaces that purposefully restricts unwanted behavior.
Direct Action
Direct action is a political tactic that involves nonviolent or disruptive actions to achieve a specific goal. This includes activities such as civil disobedience, protests, and boycotts.


Economic Liberalization
Economic Liberalization refers to policies that reduce government interference in the economy, promote free markets, and encourage private enterprise.
English garden cities
The English Garden city is a planning model developed by Sir Ebenezer Howard in the early 20th century. It was designed to provide a healthier living environment than crowded industrial cities by emphasizing green spaces, open-air recreation, and walkability.
Equity Planning
Equity planning is acknowledging the disparate impacts of urban planning on certain communities and trying to improve practices by actively engaging with residents in those communities.


Gentrification is a term that describes the process in which a neighborhood undergoes rapid change due to an influx of wealthier residents and businesses. It leads to increased property values, higher rents, and a changing commercial climate that displace long-term residents who can no longer afford the new costs.
Great Migration
The Great Migration is the mass movement of African Americans from the rural South into the Northern, Midwestern, and frontier Western states after the Reconstruction Era. Approximately 6 million black people were motivated to relocate with a desire for economic opportunity and an escape from the discrimination and Jim Crow laws of the South.


Houser is an informal term used to describe a small group of idealists led by Catherine Bauer Wurster in the pursuit of decent public housing in the United States.


Idealistic Period
The history of community design can be broken up into three eras: the Idealistic Period, the Pragmatic Period, and the Academic Period. The first two were coined by architect Mary Comerio in her 1984 journal article, ‘Community Design Idealism.’ The Idealistic Period was between 1963 to 1975 when community design centers focused on big picture issues that tried to live up to the ideals of the Civil Rights movement.
Industrial Revolution
The Industrial Revolution was a period of scientific and technological growth that transformed societies from relying on handmade goods to mass production of goods in the 18th and 19th Centuries.
Instrumentalism is a philosophical application of pragmatism which views ideas as instruments. It defines the value of an idea by its effectiveness in explaining or predicting conceptual problems, rather than its factual basis.


Karl Marx
Karl Marx was a German philosopher, economist, and revolutionary socialist whose ideas and theories have been widely influential on modern politics and economics.


Land Value Tax
Henry George proposed the land value tax (LVT) to encourage development and discourage land speculation. Unlike property taxes, LVT is a progressive tax based only on the value of land regardless of buildings or improvements.


Mitchell Lama Housing Program
Mitchell-Lama Housing is a non-subsidy governmental housing program in New York that developed affordable, co-operative, and rental housing for middle-income families. It was signed into law in 1955 as part of The Limited-Profit Housing Companies Act.
Modernization Theory
Modernization theory is used to explain the process of traditional societies developing into modern societies through economic growth, technological advancement, and social change. It originates from the work of Karl Marx, Emile Durkheim, Max Weber, and Talcott Parsons.


New Deal
The New Deal was a series of federally funded public projects and programs created by President Franklin D. Roosevelt during the Great Depression. Purpose of the New Deal was to restore the economy, and bring prosperity and security back to the American people.
New Urbanism
New Urbanism is an urban design movement that promotes environmentally friendly, walkable neighborhoods with access to diverse housing and job opportunities.
Nineteenth Amendment
The 19th Amendment was ratified in 1920 granting women the right to vote in the United States.


Planned Shrinkage
Planned shrinkage is a form of municipal disinvestment which was advocated by New York City’s Housing Commissioner Roger Starr. This policy encouraged the deliberate withdrawal of city services from blighted neighborhoods as a response to decreases in tax revenues. Planned shrinkage was the development strategy for the South Bronx in the 1970s which exacerbated the Bronx fires.
Poor People’s Campaign
The Poor People’s Campaign was a campaign for economic justice led by Martin Luther King Jr. and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) in 1968. It successfully marked poverty a visible social issue.
Postmillennialism is a Christian doctrine that believes Jesus will return after the “millennium” and give rise to a golden age of Christian prosperity.
Pragmatic Period
The history of community design can be broken up into three eras: the Idealistic Period, the Pragmatic Period, and the Academic Period. The first two were coined by architect Mary Comerio in her 1984 journal article, ‘Community Design Idealism. The Pragmatic Period (or Entrepreneurial Period) was between 1976 to 1993. Community design centers adapted to a more politically conservative climate by adopting a fee-for-service model and moving away from activism-based strategies.
In philosophy, pragmatism refers to the practical applications and consequences of an idea or a belief. It’s origins are commonly attributed to John Dewey, William James, and Charles Sanders Peirce.
Progressive Era
The Progressive Era was a period of widespread political reform and social activism in the United States between the 1890s to the 1920s. The era was defined by a commitment to eliminate corruption, economic inequality, and the negative impacts of industrialization on society.
Public Interest Design
Public Interest Design (PID) is a participatory design practice that prioritizes the general good of local communities with an emphasis on ecologically and socially responsible solutions.
Public-Private Partnerships
A Public-Private Partnership (PPP) is a collaboration between government institutions and the private sector to finance and operate public infrastructure or services.


Radburn is a planned community designed by Clarence Stein in 1929 to address the problems of traffic congestion and urban sprawl. It was an influential plan featuring one of the first uses of cul-de-sac to separate pedestrians zones from vehicles.
Radical Planning
Radical planning is a type of urban planning originated by Stephen Grabow and Allen Heskin in the early 1970s as a response to common planning practices that were seen as top-down and elitist. It emphasizes decentralization and democratization of the planning process and development.
Real Estate Investment Trust
A Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) is a company that owns, operates, or finances income-producing real estate on behalf of investors. This allows investors to participate in the real estate market without having to buy or finance properties individually.
Redlining refers to the discriminatory practice in which investments and services are withheld from neighborhoods based on their racial and ethnic composition. The most prominent example of redlining in the US was implemented by the Homeowner’s Loan Corporation (HOLC) through a system of color-coded maps known as “residential security” maps
Regional Planning
Regional Planning is an approach to urban planning from a broader regional scale rather than at the scale of individual cities or towns.
Rent Control
Rent laws were first implemented in New York City in the 1920s as a result of the rent strikes resulting from the housing shortage following World War I.
Rent Stabilization
Rent stabilization is a form of regulation that limits increases in rent to make sure certain apartments remain affordable. Rental protections were a result of decades of tenant activism. Today, New York is one of four remaining states where residential rent regulation is still in effect.
Right to Counsel
Passed in 2017, tenants in New York City facing eviction are guaranteed an attorney in housing court if their income is at or below 200% of the poverty line.


Savings and Loan Industry
The savings and loan industry promoted homeownership, particularly for low- and middle-class families, by offering secure and affordable mortgages. Excessive lending and rising federal interest rates in the 1980s led to a crisis and the insolvency of the Federal Savings and Loan Insurance Corporation.
Second Great Awakening
The Second Great Awakening was a Protestant revival movement that took place in the United States in the early 19th Century. It emphasized an individual’s own salvation and sparked social reforms like abolitionism and temperance.
Section 8
Section 8 of the Housing Act of 1937 provides housing assistance to eligible households in the form of rental vouchers funded by the federal government. The program became prominent under President Nixon as a move towards incentivizing the private development of housing rather than direct federal investment into public housing.
Slum Clearance
Slum clearance was a specific policy under the urban renewal program that replaced overcrowded, low-income areas with new housing. The policy did not address the root causes of what created the slums, neglecting the community’s needs and causing displacement.
Social Gospel
The Social Gospel was a protestant movement that applied Christian ethics to social problems. This movement contributed to the development of settlement houses and labor organizing, and influenced the basic themes of the New Deal.


Tennessee Valley Authority
The Tennessee Valley Authority is a government-owned corporation created through the New Deal to develop the Tennessee River Valley in the 1930s. It built dams and power plants to electrify the region, improve navigation and access, and reduce the risk of floods.
The Highway Expansion Act of 1956
Signed into law by President Dwight D. Eisenhower, this legislation authorized over $200 billion dollars for the construction of the Interstate Highway System. At the time it was the largest public works project in American history.
The Urban Crisis
‘The Urban Crisis’ is a term used to describe the social, economic, and political problems faced by American cities in the mid-20th century. Issues included poverty, crime, racial tensions, and white flight exacerbated by factors such as deindustrialization, suburbanization, and the decline of traditional institutions.
Third Great Awakening
The Third Great Awakening was a period of religious growth in the late 19th century and early 20th century. The movement was characterized by a shift of emphasis from personal sins to societal sins.


Urban Institute
The Urban Institute is a Washington D.C.-based think tank that researches economic and social policy. It was founded by the Johnson Administration in 1968 to study and evaluate the Great Society’s initiatives.
Urban Renewal
Urban renewal is a term used in the US to describe the federal government’s funding of land redevelopment projects to address urban decay. The program included mass-displacement and destruction of numerous redlined, low-income communities.


Waves of Immigration
The United States experienced successive waves of immigration from Europe, Asia, and Latin America in the late nineteenth century resulting in the population growth of American cities and industrial centers.
Welfare Queen
‘Welfare queen’ is a derogatory term used to describe individuals who are perceived to be abusing the social safety net. It was first popularized by President Reagan in reference to Linda Taylor who committed welfare fraud. It later became a politicized label to stigmatize anyone who needs welfare assistance, disproportionately associated with single mothers of color.
Women’s Christian Temperance Movement
Women’s Christian Temperance movement started as a social movement in support of the prohibition of alcohol. The movement later evolved to take on other civic issues like women’s suffrage, and is still active in many states.