A collaboration between CCA Interaction Design and Architecture students and the African American Art and Culture Complex (AAACC) to co-design a parklet that facilitates social gathering and increases awareness of the AAACC.

Team: Aditi Mathur, Georgia Came, Katie Jacquez, Louise Laub, Shiv Kehr, Tetiana Muraviov & Vanessa Slavich
Community Partner: African American Art and Culture Complex
Class: Social Lab


The AAACC's mission is to nurture and facilitate the empowerment of San Francisco's black community through Afro-centric artistic and cultural expression, mediums, education, and programming. However, a shrinking black population in the city along with other factors have resulted in low awareness and visibility of the AAACC.

The team was inspired by a 2015 local residents' ethnographic study that described the area around the AAACC as a "social gathering desert." The residents shared a vision of the AAACC becoming "a beacon or symbol to outsiders of excellence in Black arts and culture."

This year long project resulted in the co-design of a parklet that amplifies the mission of the AAACC by driving awareness of the programming inside the building and by serving as a social gathering space. In addition to designing a physical space, the team also facilitated a series of workshops by developing a Design Fellows youth program that included 5 youth in the process.



The team won two awards that funded the creation of the parklet:

  • CCA Impact Award of $10,000 enabled them to develop a summer Design Fellows program with local youth. They participated in the research and prototyping phases of the project.

  • San Francisco Community Challenge Grant of $36,000 covered the expenses of the physical materials required to build the parklet



The parklet brought the vision of the community to life.

  • Modular: It was designed to be modular so things could be moved around and the space could host groups of different sizes.

  • Signage: To showcase events and artists at the AAACC.

  • Artwork: To display art created by artists in the community.

  • Sound: Speakers were embedded for playing music and other types of audio.

  • Plants: Brought greenery and nature into the space to make it feel like a space people want to hang out in.

  • Stage: For small performances.

  • Lighting: To activate the parklet at night.


Fellowship Program

The 8 week Fellowship Program brought 5 youth ages 9-18 on board with the project. The youth attended design thinking workshops and were mentored through the process of conducting interviews, synthesizing their research, developing ideas and prototyping. With their involvement, the team was able to uncover recurring themes that came up in conversations with community members and effectively meet their needs in creating a visible space for Black art and culture.


The team conducted extensive generative and evaluative research with three groups: people working in the AAACC building, people visiting the AAACC building, and residents who love nearby. The goal was to understand the needs of the community around social spaces.

As they continued to develop the concept of the parklet, they collected feedback through interviews, community events, and feedback forms. The parklet was constantly being iterated upon and community members were involved in different stages of decision making.



Each Design Fellow was responsible for creating one concept for prototyping. The prototypes were created with business origami, architectural legos and cardboard. The team translated these into large scale prototypes made with plywood cut on the CNC router and laser cutter.