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.  

From 2005 to 2018 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 format’s goal is to remain free and open to the public.  The Forum partners include 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, © 2018

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The calendar events are listed by month below.  Following 2016 are previous years events — you can scroll down and click on posters of each year to see event details for that year starting in 2006.

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February 2018



Precedent Lifestyle Design

Civic By Design is introducing the Block 21 Collective.  We will be posting through e-mail, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter so stay tuned.

The BLOCK 21 COLLECTIVE goals include:

helping to build places people love

avoiding one-design-fits-all solutions

integrating sustainability and walkable urbanism

introducing patterns of middle density

recovering timeless building types

emphasizing scale, detail, and especially proportion

pushing the bar in a slightly more progressive direction

creating designs that are extremely simple in form

responding to preferences for custom types of gathering spaces

formulating components that are transferable from larger blocks to individual lots

varying design character from rural to urban zones

composing together the master plan, infrastructure, buildings, and gathering spaces 

arranging the structures and functions around key spaces

exploring preferences for contemporary and traditional design

balancing character with aesthetics

integrating historic preservation

remaining human in scale, proportion, and form

having fun

January 2018


Can South Charlotte fix

Sharon Road and Fairview Road? 

More and more pockets of walkable Urbanism continue to sprout up across Charlotte offering a highly desirable lifestyle to Millennials as well as aging Baby Boomers.  At the same time, it is becoming more humiliating for South Charlotteans to struggle through the suburban traffic nightmare of their placeless main-and-main crossroads of Sharon Road and Fairview Road - a legacy of 20th century suburban sprawl on steroids.  Click on the image for a new civic vision of Southpark Square.

December 2017 Civic By Design Agenda



Clearly we won't get more affordability or more mobility without a new civic design vision incorporating input from residents.   Atlanta gets this and have created a The Atlanta City Design inspired by historic grand plans such as Daniel Burnham's Plan for Chicago. 

For Civic By Design's December agenda we are exploring ways we can advance Charlotte's New Civic Design Vision.   

December Agenda:

1. Check out the mega-watercolor poster and the 78 page book  on The Atlanta City Design: 


2. Review media-related articles and reference material including: 




3. Think and chat with others about ways we can advance our New Civic Design Vision and plan to share these starting in 2018.

4. Follow our upcoming postings of related content on the Civic By Design website, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.


Image: Atlanta City Design Poster 2017 City of Atlanta Department of City Planning

For our 2017 and 2016 Listing of Forum Events click here.

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.

In 2011 Civic By Design launched the CIVILIZING PLACES Initiative