In communities that are rapidly changing, residents can feel overwhelmed, overlooked and under-resourced. The mission of River East Design Center, a community design center founded by architect Anna McCorvey in 2018, is to empower underserved communities to shape their environment by providing educational opportunities and low-cost design services. REDC has been addressing this challenge through a series of information sessions designed to equip residents with information and resources.
Building on these existing efforts, the project Back to Basics: Mobile is a mobile kiosk and publication series that breaks down complex design-related topics and equips residents with information and resources in an inviting, tangible, and easily distributable format. The kiosk allows design center volunteers to go into communities with this information thus removing the barriers that can exist in accessing traditional public forums. Addressing basic elements that shape the built environment such as real estate, affordable housing, and sustainable home design, Back to Basics: Mobile aims to identify topics relevant to the community today and present this information in a distributable format to make it more accessible.
During the fellowship, McCorvey has run focus groups at the Anacostia Neighborhood Library to better understand the issues and questions that motivate residents to improve their neighborhoods. In fall 2021, River East Design Center began to pilot a prototype for its mobile information cart, while continuing to fine tune its interaction and engagement with the public and develop the next topic for publication in the Back to Basics series.
In McCorvey’s words, “When I run a focus group, I’m always looking to understand what would motivate locals to seek out design resources and work actively on issues that impact their lives and their neighborhoods. Finding safe and accessible spaces to meet is really important to me.”
About Anna McCorvey
Anna McCorvey found architecture through housing; public housing to be more specific. At a young age she noticed the subtle and sometimes flagrant differences between the housing and schools from one part of town to the next. Her desire to understand these differences and address them led her to a Bachelors of Architecture degree from Howard University and a Masters of City Planning degree from the University of California Berkeley with a housing and community development emphasis. Upon graduating, she spent 4 years at Wiencek and Associates Architects and Planners working on affordable and low-income housing developments. She is now an architect at Cox Graae + Spack Architects designing schools and other buildings that serve the public. In 2018, McCorvey started the River East Design Center, a community design center with a mission to empower underserved communities to shape their own environments. The design center does this by providing educational opportunities and low-cost design services to DC's ward 7 and 8 communities.