The Civic By Design Forum was launched in 2005, when architect and planner Tom Low and the Levine Museum of the New South’s staff historian Tom Hanchett collaborated on an exhibit about John Nolen, planner of Myers Park.  Tom Low realized there needed to be a place in Charlotte where we can get people talking to each other about civic design issues that are shaping our city’s history today.  Tom Hanchett agreed and offered the Levine Museum of the New South as a neutral ground venue.   Since 2005 Civic By Design, directed by Tom Low, has hosted over 120 Forums, organized symposiums, conducted hands-on design workshops, launched initiatives on Learning Cottages, Civic Gardens, Pop-Up Porches, Light Imprint Green Infrastructure, and proposals for Sprawl Repair and Urban Triage across the city and region.

The mission of Civic By Design is to elevate the quality of our built environment and to promote public participation in the creation of a more beautiful and functional region for all.

We achieve our mission by engaging and uniting businesses, non-profits, academic institutions, municipal governments, and citizens through promotion of civic design including our monthly Forum

• The Forum is free and open to the public continually active since 2005.  The Forum is presented with the Levine Museum of the New South, and is sponsored through partnerships with the Foundation for the Carolinas, Crossroads Charlotte, American Institute of Architects Charlotte, the Congress for the New Urbanism Carolinas, the Charlotte Sierra Club, the US Green Building Council Charlotte, the City of Belmont, the Charlotte Area Bicycle Alliance, the Charlotte Mixed-Income Housing Coalition, CORA Architecture Charlotte, the Institute of Classical Architecture and Classical America Charlotte, American Planning Association - North Carolina, the Public Art Program of Charlotte’s Arts & Science Council, City of Charlotte Transportation and Planning, Charlotte Center City Partners, Sustain Charlotte, TreesCharlotte, Plan Charlotte, the Charlotte Film Society, 100 Gardens, Better Cities & Towns, Art in Transit, School of Architecture, Master of Urban Design Program, University of North Carolina @ Charlotte, and participants like you.  Thomas E. Low AIA CNU LEED AICP NCARB, Director, Civic By Design, © 2015

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In The News:

Time for CIVIC DESIGN 101 !

Stay tuned for more information.

Steps to Rural Sprawl

Where did all the rural sprawl come from?   This explain this historical evolutionary pattern are a set of graphic diagrams.

Still in the mood to vote?



Wall Street Journal: New Small Towns: Housing Developments That Recreate Village Life A MANSION Section cover article and 2-page feature in the Wall Street Journal America’s With quaint shops, wraparound porches and pedestrian-friendly streets, these new communities appeal to homebuyers’ desires for a strong sense of place - excerpt: "Habersham, a 282-acre coastal community outside Beaufort, S.C., is set on a former plantation shaded by canopies of centuries-old live oaks; its layout was inspired by historic Low Country villages, where irregular roads evolved from animal paths, according to Tom Low, architect and director of town planning."

Public Square:  Out-performing golf course communities: "The definition of the suburbs will change and they will take on new urban qualities. Everywhere you see infill opportunities in the suburbs. Shopping malls are being converted. Transit stops are being converted to TOD. City life is only for so many people. There are people who want a little more room—a little more green. I’m still talking about small lots, but nothing like living in a multistory building in the city. The millennials are downtown now because they don’t have kids. And it's fun, it's cool, but when the time comes for some of them to move to the suburbs, I hope these [new urban] kinds of developments will be the future." — Founder and Developer Robert Turner

Best in America Living:   Demonstrating a viable "missing middle" density for community making - excerpt:  "Most important, Missing Middle housing must provide a similar experience and curb appeal of single-family homes. Thus making them more marketable. In the best examples, they face onto a neighborhood scale, tree-lined street, the buildings are a similar scale to single-family homes, and owners enter their home directly from a front porch, stoop, or small courtyard, rather than down a long corridor to their unit."

A Civic By Design review of Charlotte's proposed new grand central station design.

Here's a creative design after 8 days of charretting in Louisiana: The images are of one study area of the master-plan for the Evangeline Corridor Initiative:

Suburban Sprawl Zone - Passe' Mall and Big Box Commercial slated for an elevated highway hurricane evacuation route

Civic Art Master Plan showing the highway interchange redesigned as a gateway boulevard, circle, arch lined with new urban mixed-use as well as green infrastructure for stormwater management.

We took the Civic By Design program on the road with an invitation by Historic Denver and CARTA on the theme of: Is There a There There? We are collaborating on elevating the quality of design and development for both cities. Here is a draft report: Principles for An Enduring City

Listen here for WFAE CHARLOTTE TALKS with Tom Low on Ugly Buildings in Charlotte

As the second fastest growing city in the country, Charlotte’s population is exploding and developers are trying to keep up. Hence, all those apartments cropping up around town. But some architects feel those building are too similar, too bland and because there are so many of them, they are beginning to negatively impact the look of the city. Those architects are suggesting stronger design standards need to be adopted and we’ll hear their ideas.

Fighting Back Against

Ugly Buildings

Ten Acres That Transformed A City

Design Forum Asks:  Which Neighborhood Would You Rather Walk In?

How Should We Design Buildings to Protect Charlotte's Public Realm:

Agenda: What (Made) the Common Market’s Courtyard So Great?

MIXOPOLY training workshops:

CASQA Monterey, California

Imagine training stormwater engineers to become creative placemakers!  Here are some action shots of Making Neighborhoods with Green Infrastructure training in full swing.

Is your group interested in creating neighborhoods with green infrastructure? Check out Light Imprint Mixopoly workshops at this year's CASQA annual conference.

To Reduce Sprawl UNCC students imagine urban landscape projects: Present at Civic By Design 

Sterilizing Development is an issue in our historic neighborhoods. Is it possible to grow “the right way,” in a way that protects and even enhances what came before?  Listen on WFAE for the Charlotte Talks episode.

Charlotte Sprawl Repair is a hot topic. Follow the link for a full report!  Listen on WFAE for the Charlotte Talks episode.

Seven Steps to a Great Transit Stop: Observer Article

We now have available our popular presentation on the POLARIZED PUBLIC REALM available here.

Go to our Forum Page to see activity over the past several months.

Here is our 2015 poster collage of event images and a numbered list describing each monthly event.  

See if you can match the images with the specific event.  

Click the poster or here for answers and additional information.

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Front Porch Image