Designing For Democracy

Located in New Orleans and New York City, Designing For Democracy (DFD) is an independent non-profit research and design agency founded by Victor F. “Trey” Trahan III, FAIA and April De Simone in 2021. Designing For Democracy investigates spatial infractions of democracy within the built environment, exploring the implicit relationship between architecture and society’s most pressing challenges.

Trahan and De Simone believe the built environment inscribes human value. A sense of worth, place, and identity are defined through spatial, psychological, and behavioral terms. Upon closer examination, the built environment also reveals fractured and undemocratic processes, reinforcing systemic conditions of inequity and cultural hierarchy, and legitimizing the dehumanization of large segments of society. Both Trahan and De Simone actively support the work of organizations such as The Cultural Landscape Foundation, and within this context, Designing For Democracy activates opportunities for new pedagogical and methodological approaches to interrogate and deconstruct existing paradigms, while simultaneously advancing democratic spatial practice through the emergence of projects centered on more equitable, humane, and just stewardship of the built environment.

We welcome you to join a growing interdisciplinary consortium of spatial practitioners interrogating and actualizing democratic values intrinsically important to scale a just and inclusive built environment rooted in healing, equity, and justice.

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“How do we approach our work first as humanitarians, and then as architects? We have an obligation to pursue equity and take every opportunity to spatialize justice. There is a natural progression based on our work dedicated to rootedness, to place, and to advancing justice, equity, and democratic principles. Designing For Democracy synthesizes that progression to continue the work.”


“Today, our cities, suburbs, and open spaces are faced with myriad challenges that are as familiar to us as they were to some of our grandparents: aging or divisive infrastructure; unequal access to clean water, air, and land; lack of meaningfully affordable housing, food, and schools; and unequal distribution of open space and recreation. These all too familiar generational challenges continue to show us it is not enough to write statements or say what we would like to see in our world while not transforming the very systemic and structural conditions impeding the full potential of democracy.”


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