Design and Planning Assistance Center (DPAC)

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The mission of the Design and Planning Assistance Center (DPAC) is to deliver design and planning assistance to communities throughout the state of New Mexico and the Southwest region through community-engaged learning and scholarship.


DPAC was founded at the UNM School of Architecture & Planning (SA+P) in 1969, as part of a national community design movement that linked university design programs and design practitioners with communities in need. Today, DPAC is the second oldest, continuously operating community design center based in a public university. Throughout its history, DPAC has served hundreds of communities—large and small—in every county of New Mexico.

How We Work

DPAC is committed to community-based and community-driven processes, based on promising practices of Participatory Action Research (PAR), and especially values the principles and approaches of Community-Based Participatory Research (CBPR).

DPAC facilitates independent research and teaching in service to the public and in coordination and collaboration with local communities, local governments, public agencies, and nonprofit community-based organizations.

The DPAC Studio encourages broad-based thinking about urban design and planning. As Architects, Landscape Architects, and Planners, we collaborate in a process that includes research, community participation, asset inventory, analysis, programming, site planning, design, and recommendations for project implementation.

We tackle the design process at multiple scales as we consider regional trends and characteristics, transportation issues, economic conditions, unique development, and architectural patterns, local history, community climate, and community goals via those most impacted by the local changes, challenges, and opportunities.

" and planning processes are fundamentally shared experiences that bind us together; client, student, and faculty. We learn from and about one another. Our strengths and our limitations become public knowledge, but somehow we all emerge stronger for it. For the faculty and students, it is a taste of reality, a test of skill, and a lesson in humility. For the client it is a glimpse of future potential and a symbol of a better life. For all, it is a learning experience and a reminder that architecture and planning are not some abstracted endeavors disconnected from the daily lives of people."
- Former SA+P Dean, Richard Eribes, December, 1994

Watch DPAC's 45th Anniversary Video and learn more and see how DPAC commits to SA+P, UNM, and Albuquerque.

Recent Projects

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