Cities as Clients

The Urban Collaboratory brings together faculty and students in collaboration with city leaders and residents to identify and address emerging challenges in 21st-century urban centers. Interdisciplinary teams with members from different Colleges across campus work together in a convergent research approach emphasizing societal impact.

About the Collaboratory

The Urban Collaboratory draws together a community of scholars from across the University of Michigan campus to collaborate directly with city stakeholders to address targeted challenges that impact the health and livability of urban centers.

The Collaboratory provides a “front door” to communities trying to connect with U-M. Faculty and student teams work directly with city stakeholders to identify community challenges, develop an effective approach, identify funding sources and then implement solutions guided by novel urban design methods. Collaboratory projects integrate information, communication technology, and sensor technologies in a comprehensive fashion to observe, manage, and control urban processes—all with the goal of improving residents’ overall quality of life.

Our Principles

Principle of Recognition.

All parties relevant to a particular engagement bring knowledge and insights, both explicit and implicit that are essential to successfully accomplishing the assignment. All parties shall recognize and respect the abilities contributed by other team members.

Principle of Respect.

All parties participating in an assignment are offering value and prioritizing their efforts relative to time and other resources devoted to successfully accomplish the assignment. The full range of contributions made by each team member will be recognized and respected.

Principle of Equitable Partnership.

Equitable partnerships provide benefits to all parties. While they will be different for different parties, all participants will strive to ensure that all receive benefits that are relevant and realistic from the perspective of the party receiving them.

Principle of Trust and Transparency.

Developing and continuously enriching a trusted relationship is essential to enable the principles above. Trust is earned over time through transparency and alignment of actions with expressions of intent.

Principle of Justice, Empowerment and Community Competency.

The community is the ultimate decision-maker concerning the overall approaches, methods, and implementation of research efforts in their communities.

Projects and Partnerships

Current Collaboratory projects include removing phosphorus from water in Detroit, helping seniors age in place in Ypsilanti, improving public transportation in Benton Harbor, and much more.

“Partnerships with the Urban Collaboratory will unlock the power of interdisciplinary research and implementation through design integration with our city partners.”

Geoffrey Thün

Associate Professor of Architecture and Associate Dean for Research at the Taubman College of Architecture Urban Planning, and Urban Collaboratory Co-Director

Collaboratory Leadership

Project Collaborators