City Building Lab Director Receives NEA Grant for Community Design Workshops

Nadia Anderson
Thursday, February 4, 2021
Associate Professor Nadia Anderson's project has been selected for a $25,000 grant.

Associate Professor of Architecture and Urban Design Nadia Anderson, director of the City Building Lab, has been approved for $25,000 “Grants for Arts Projects” award from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) to support neighborhood visioning workshops to address housing, transportation, and public space. Through this community-engaged design project, City Building Lab will partner with communities of color to envision inclusive neighborhood futures.

Anderson’s research, teaching, and practice focus on publicly-engaged design as a vehicle for social empowerment and environmental resilience. The City Building Lab is the community-engaged research arm of the School of Architecture, through which faculty and students engage with communities, particularly those most often overlooked in design and community planning processes, to realize built environments that use design tools to embody the knowledge, values, and aspirations of local people.

“Receiving funding from a federal organization like the National Endowment for the Arts is a tremendous honor,” said Anderson. “It recognizes the importance of not only my work, but more broadly the impacts that the arts and design can have in creating equity in neighborhoods whose built environments reflect legacies of structural racism. In addition, this grant makes it possible for the City Building Lab to establish a program of co-creation with local organizations and neighborhoods that lifts up the knowledge, voices, and innovative ideas of local people at the centers of these communities.” 

group at a community workshop

With Anderson’s facilitation, participants in the NEA-funded workshops will identify neighborhood histories, assets, and issues; set goals and priorities; create design visions that embody local goals; and identify funding and develop materials to move projects forward.

“I am pleased that the NEA has chosen to fund this important project,” said Blaine Brownell, director of the School of Architecture. “This endeavor supports our advocacy for underserved communities, demonstrating that such partnerships can be potent vehicles for innovation in design, research, and community engagement.”

The NEA has awarded nearly $25 million to 1,073 projects across America during this first round of fiscal year 2021 funding in the Grants for Arts Projects funding category.  For more information on projects included in the NEA grant announcement, visit

Pictured right: Anderson (far left) leads a City Building Lab community design workshop in west Charlotte, October 2018.