ARH 498 Collaborative Project / ARH 512 Participatory Design

ARH 498 Collaborative Project & ARH 512 Participatory Design


ARH 512 & 498 comprise the Community-Based Design program at the School of Architecture.  You will design and build a real project for actual occupants that you will have met through the community outreach process. By the end of the sequence, you will have taken part in a robust community design process, a fundraising campaign, and the rigorous design, prototyping and fabrication process. For B Arch students, two semesters of ARH 498 is an alternate track to ARH 510 & ARH 550. We also welcome BA and graduate students who can take these courses as electives.

This class involves collaboration and engagement with local residents and your fellow students and instructors. The goal is to delve into the real world impact and power of architecture, acquiring critical professional skills as you transition into your careers.  It will also allow you to explore the merging of theoretical exploration with professional reality while using design to further social justice in our local community.

In our opinion, this is what it means to be a practicing architect.


Student projects from these courses have been recognized with numerous awards:


Community-based project schedules accommodate the community’s needs and real world conditions. ARH 498 and ARH 512 provide a year-round timeline for design and fabrication. B Arch students need to take both classes. Students taking these courses as electives should take ARH 512.

  • ARH 498 Collaborative Project (6 credit studio, 12 credits required for B Arch students in Community-based design track)
  • ARH 512 Participatory Design (3 credit elective, 3 credits required for B Arch students in Community-based design track)


Take a look at the amazing, and award-winning, work students have completed in past years!

View online portfolio

Point Perch

Unity Pavilion

ARH 512 Participatory Design (3 credits)

Participatory Design is key to creating equity. Working with residents and community, you will develop tools for collaborative decision-making that address the needs of diverse users by putting your communication techniques, design skills, and research methodologies into practice in a real-life project.


Course Learning Outcomes

  • Develop skills for deep listening and for co-creating with community members
  • Apply field research methods to document patterns of human behavior and identify unmet programmatic needs
  • Create interactive design and communication tools for community members to share their lived experiences
  • Incorporate awareness of power imbalance in evaluating design proposals
  • Exhibit professionalism and accountability during service project events

ARH 498 Collaborative Project (6 credits)

Gain hands-on experience in community-based design and make a difference in a local neighborhood. Collaboratively design, prototype, and fabricate a real project for the Park Merced community engaging with residents, facility managers, engineers, landscape architects, and young students in neighborhood schools. Become a maker, innovator, community partner, and advocate.


Course Learning Outcomes

  • Listen with empathy to identify the needs of the community
  • Create interactive design and communication tools to engage community members
  • Develop a method for incorporating community input
  • Prototype and test design proposals using an iterative process
  • Recognize behaviors that build a positive team culture
  • Develop skills to resolve differences in design approaches
  • Accept personal responsibility on individual components of the work assigned by the team
  • Exhibit professionalism and accountability during service project events
  • Document and publish the final project and the design process