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  • Melinda Steffy

CASE STUDY: Center for Architecture and Design

SECTOR: Arts & Culture, Education


SERVICES: Strategic Business Model, Facilitation


The Center for Architecture and Design brings architects and designers together to address crucial social issues such as racial equity and climate justice. Drawing on Philadelphia’s distinctive breadth of architecture, pioneering urban design, and manufacturing heritage, they engage the public through talks, exhibitions, publications, hands-on workshops, design competitions, festivals, and children's programming.

As with many nonprofits, the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted and reshaped the Center’s landscape entirely. Recognizing that their prior events-based, physical-space approach was no longer effective, they sought to reimagine their business model and offerings to better meet the changing needs of their participants and audiences.


We began by facilitating a charette with members of affiliated design associations, to get a sense for how the Center might better partner with these member-based organizations. The feedback from that session led to the creation of a new membership model that will allow the Center to support design associations with communications and administrative support, minimize the strain on these primarily volunteer-led orgs, and bring together thought-leaders to collectively move the design sector forward.

We then worked with Center staff to map the flow of resources and relationships across the organization, and to identify how their business practices align with their strategic priorities. The resulting visualization, based on methodology by Boardroom Labs, shows how building relationships with design professionals ultimately leads to their strategic goals of better built-environment design, increased public awareness about design’s impact, and greater diversity and equity within design fields.

With staff, we synced up the strategic vision with the budget projections. The new membership model and business strategies support increased revenue for the Center, provide a foundation for new brand positioning and public messaging, and help the organization find solid footing during changing times.

A complex chart of rectangles, circles, and triangles, connected by lines.
Strategic business model map


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