Research and Extension

Downtown Design Studio


The primary mission of the Downtown Design Studio is to educate and provide students with opportunities to explore new methods and innovative solutions about contemporary design issues and urbanism in cities, towns, and neighborhoods. The DDS provides real-world learning opportunities for the College of Design students through its offered courses, design services, and research, which seek to improve the quality of life in communities of North Carolina and beyond.


The projects accommodated at the DDS at all levels seek to cover the complete range of artistic, historical and cultural experiences integrated with the design solutions in both urban and rural contexts in terms of housing, streetscape design, master planning, commercial district revitalization, mixed-use development, recreation planning, historic preservation, residential neighborhood redevelopment, public art, and other areas


The DDS is located on 131½ South Wilmington Street at downtown Raleigh. The DDS has a main studio space, a conference room, and offices. The DDS spaces are fully networked and outfitted with multiple high-end computers supporting a wide range of CAD and graphic software.

The setting of Raleigh provides an unparalleled opportunity to study intervention in the downtown districts, rehabilitation of downtown areas, improvement of decaying neighborhoods, transformation of abandoned sites, and the creation of new communities. Although the initial focus of design projects are downtown Raleigh, the DDS welcomes design projects from other cities, towns and neighborhoods of North Carolina as well as national and global projects by nature.

The format of each project is unique and developed specifically for the respective context in which the project is rooted. The DDS develops knowledge and public awareness about the physical environment and design and development issues, through practice-based research, discussion forms, exhibitions, lectures, and exploratory design charrettes and community workshops.

Through academic courses, design services, and research offered, the DDS works to build a sustainable and vibrant regional future based on ideas that encourage environmental integrity, protect natural and cultural resources, stimulate economic prosperity, and enhance the public realm.