ADC is an independent, nonprofit agency founded in 2006 on the belief that everyone deserves good design. Planning builds community, and design shapes our lives every day—yet few of us have easy access to an architect, engineer, landscape architect or planner. ADC recruits volunteer professionals to work with communities to develop design solutions that enhance our quality of life.
We engage Western North Carolina
in creative community based design
to promote healthy, thriving and equitable communities.
- We only work in communities where we have been invited.
- We bring a multi-disciplinary team of volunteer designers to every project.
- We use a community-driven design process–our volunteers use your ideas to create better design solutions.
Prior to owning her own business, Carrie worked for 10 years in local government planning and non-profit advocacy, first at Land-of-Sky Regional Council in Asheville and then nationwide for the Safe Routes to School National Partnership. Her project experience includes rural and urban transportation planning, regional sustainable development planning, and complete streets advocacy. Carrie is a graduate of Ohio University in Athens, Ohio and holds an MA in Geography, a BS in Biology, and a BS in Visual Communication/Photojournalism.
She lives in West Asheville with her husband, Brian, and two children, Isadora and Oscar. Other interests include cooking, biking, hiking with the family dog, and supporting local music.
Mike is currently pursuing graduate studies in Creative Placemaking from The Ohio State University, Columbus. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in City & Regional Planning from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo and is the 2007 recipient of the American Planning Association’s National Planning Leadership Award for a Student Planner. Prior to his consulting career, Mike managed local government partnerships for Renewable Funding, LLC, a start-up renewable energy finance company focused on developing and delivering Property Assessed Clean Energy (“PACE Bonds”) programs. He has also worked in the public sector as a city planner and sustainability coordinator for the City of Benicia, California.
Leah earned a Bachelor’s degree from the University of North Carolina at Asheville. She continued her academic pursuits and earned a Master’s degree in Accounting from Western Carolina University. Leah became a Certified Public Accountant and Certified Information Technology Professional in 2005.
Leah is in a number of professional organizations including a member of the North Carolina Association of Certified Public Accountants, a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, and a member of the American Women’s Society of Certified Public Accountants. Leah provides independent financial analysis in addition to tax and accounting services as well as information technology/accounting integration services.
Her past experience includes leading a dynamic downtown revitalization nonprofit engaged in marketing, branding and events designed to bring creative projects, new businesses & residents to the Upstate of SC, 5 years as the youngest member of City Council in Spartanburg, SC, and managing communications and outreach for a private foundation. Cate holds a BA from Wellesley College and a Masters of City and Regional Planning and a Certificate of Urban Design from the University of Pennsylvania.
Cate lives in West Asheville with her husband Aaron, daughter Winnie, and their 5 cats
As an architect in training, Luly focuses on cohesive reflections of a client’s lifestyle needs, tastes and aesthetics while preserving the natural beauty that each site holds.
In 2009, after graduating from Florida Atlantic University’s School of Architecture, Luly moved to Asheville, NC. As a registered LEED AP, Luly served as LEED Team Leader on the Nauhaus Prototype — the first of many hemp structures Alembic Studio has designed.
Concentrating on the intersection and enhancement of public and private space in an urban environment, Luly expanded her studies abroad at the Instituto Europeo di Design in Barcelona, Spain. Her passions for design found an outlet within the urban realm inspiring her to found O.P.E.N. (Outreach Projects Enhance Neighborhoods) for designers, artists & the community at large. Aspiring to promote public spaces as a medium for shared experiences, she launched Asheville’s first Parklet on Lexington Avenue in 2012.
Luly’s Cuban heritage instilled family and closeknit values as the touchstones of any community. As an aspiring architect, environmental designer and urbanist, Luly’s personable, positive, lively attitude towards sustainable change inspires those around her to be a part of the movement.
In 1988 David was elected a Fellow of the American Institute of Certified Planners. He is the author of numerous articles as well as books on the planning of the New York metropolitan region and the development program of the Tennessee Valley Authority. He is married to Eleanor Stephens Johnson. They have three daughters and reside in Asheville, North Carolina where they are active in civic affairs.
With a passion for inclusive design and ecological sensitivity, he is inspired by the mission of the Asheville Design Center, and has been very active in collaborating with the ADC at Hall Fletcher Elementary School since 2012.
Joel earned his degree in Landscape Architecture from North Carolina State University where he graduated with honors as a class valedictorian and was awarded the Certificate of Honor from the American Society of Landscape Architects. He also volunteers for organizations including The Trust for Public Land, Habitat for Humanity and Asheville Humane Society. Joel is also an advocate for the acquisition of land devoted to active public use and the use of green design initiatives throughout the City of Asheville.
Before coming to the Center in 2011, she served as Senior Advisor for Healthy Schools for the North Carolina Division of Public Health. Over the past 40 years, she has taught at both K-12 and university levels and held frontline positions in hospital-based worksite health promotion and in local & state public health agencies.
Her work with communities has been recognized with state and national public health awards. Rebecca currently serves as a nationally elected member of the Society for Public Health Education, Board of Trustees Executive Committee and as an Advisory Board member for the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation.
Board members serve a term of three years. Board members may serve two consecutive terms before cycling off.
Chris lives in West Asheville with his wife Nicole and their dog, The Dude.
Currently, she serves as principle architect for Milkhouse Design Studio and Workshop, a venture that germinated from lessons learned while working on the family’s fifth generation dairy farm one summer in the rural Northeast. The thought grew into a quest for understanding the process of building through a holistic pursuit of design ability meshed with skills obtained from working alongside of master crafts-persons. The concept is rooted in the notion that architecture should not be separated into the current, stringent categories of Architect and Builder, but should allow for the two professions to work together in tandem, learning and growing from one another through direct participation.
Before establishing Milkhouse, Liz acquired over ten years of architectural experience in several award winning firms, grounding her work in a wide technical background. She has pursued design/build education at home and abroad by teaching timber frame construction in north London at the Burlington Danes Academy and as a fabricator on the Canningtown Caravanserai in east London. At home, she is currently engaged as an exhibit designer and fabricator at the Hagley gunpowder and industrial history museum and serves as a supporting member of the museum’s “Maker Space” task force.
Liz is a registered architect in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, holds a M.Arch from the Architectural Association School of Architecture in London, UK focusing on Design/ Build strategies and a B.Arch from Roger Williams University in Bristol, RI.
Her love of travel, motorcycles, vintage Americana and eccentric encounters always make for entertaining stories and a few laughs.
Luke’s professional background has focused on the relationship between architecture, substandard housing, and community engagement. More specifically Luke has worked in addressing homelessness through public advocacy as well as shelter/transitional housing design, working at the National Coalition for the Homeless and Metro Atlanta Task Force for the Homeless. He has worked construction building affordable housing in Washington, DC and researched low-cost housing options around the world as a UC Berkeley Branner Fellow.
Luke’s background in construction and design has allowed him to pursue numerous design-build projects. In 2003, he designed and built a private residence near Boone, NC. In 2006, he led a team to design and build 40 new sleeping compartments for Atlanta’s largest homeless shelter. In 2009, he helped design and build a new bench for a garden in Berkeley, California. In 2010, he designed and built numerous structures for the Pie Lab in Greensboro, AL. Finally, since living in Asheville, Luke has led a number of innovative projects such as the Mystic Dreams Pavilion, the Evergreen Community Charter School Outdoor Classroom, and Randolph Learning School Garden Shed.
He received undergraduate degrees in both Architecture and Industrial Design from NC State University in 2000 and received his Masters of Architecture from the University of California, Berkeley in 2009. During his time at Berkeley, he taught two undergraduate studios under mentorship of Randy Hester and Keith Plymale. In 2010-11, Luke served as an adjunct professor at Appalachian State University teaching classes in design, drawing, computer modeling and construction.
As a native of the North Carolina mountains, Luke cherishes the natural beauty and opportunities the southern Appalachians provide. He is a passionate soccer fan and plays a mean game of table tennis.
After spending more than six years of traditional employment with award-winning architecture firms in the Pacific Northwest and Hawai'i, Miriam has adapted her career to focus on education through design/build. In 2010, Miriam co-founded Build Lightly Studio, realizing her dream of teaching the next generation of collaborative thinkers through design/build. The result: a hybrid designer/builder/instructor role that extends beyond the years of licensed design work to the actual project construction; that is: the hammer swinging, the power tool-wielding, the early morning team meetings fueled by adrenaline (and, more often than not, too much coffee).
Today, Miriam has tailored this concept into a formal profession that combines continued experience as a freelance designer and green building consultant with teaching student-led design/build courses and workshops in the U.S. and internationally. In this unique arrangement, teaching informs professional practice, and vice-versa.
Miriam's definitive architectural career is inspired by students, yet grounded in real-world design challenges. A competent project architect with an interest in environmental design, she excels in collaboration, project management, and community engagement. To date, Miriam's experience as an educator through Build Lightly Studio includes: Asheville Design Center, Yestermorrow Design/Build School, University of Washington Neighborhood Design/Build Studio, and the University of Hawai'i at Manoa, archawai'i program. She graduated in 2006 from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo with a Bachelor of Architecture and a minor in French. She received her architecture license in 2010 in Washington state and Hawai'i.
Her work in the local food movement includes work on an off-the- grid farm in northern Arizona, coordinating the City of Austin’s Urban Agriculture and Community Gardens program, and assisting with food hub feasibility studies nationwide. She has also developed technical tools to level the playing field for local producers in the wider market. Meg has also worked in economic development coordinating small town revitalization programs with HandMade in America and directly with entrepreneurs at North Carolina's Small Business and Technology Development Center. From 2013 – 2015, Meg spent two years heading up the northern Arizona office of Local First Arizona, the largest local business coalition in the country and one of the most effective.
Today, Meg works as a planner and project manager with Asheville Design Center, as a network coordinator with sustainability professionals around the nation with Ullman Consulting and on local food systems planning projects with SCALE, Inc. Meg also serves on the Asheville Grown Business Alliance steering committee and on the development committee for Asheville on Bikes.
Ms. Emison has worked with a variety of public, non-profit and private entities to facilitate the redevelopment of contaminated properties. She has administered numerous state and federal brownfield assessment and revolving loan fund grants and provided guidance to other grant recipients. In addition, she has managed brownfield real estate transactions and developed numerous strategic economic development and reuse plans for various municipalities.
Ms. Emison serves as a planner, economic analyst, and project manager deploying a variety of quantitative and qualitative tools to guide redevelopment and planning of sites across the country. Ms. Emison has a Bachelor's in Economics and Political Science from Wellesley College and a Master's in City Planning from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. While at MIT, Ms. Emison received the American Institute of Certified Planners Student Project Award for the application of the planning process.
In early 2006, the AIA Asheville section applied for an American Institute of Architects “Blueprint for America – AIA 150” project grant. In June 2006, we were awarded $15,000 from AIA for our “Bridging the French Broad: Creating Connected Livable Communities” project. The goal of this project was to engage the community in discussions as to how the Blueprint’s “Ten Principles for Livable Communities” and the community’s design goals could be implemented in the design of the I-26 connector through Asheville.
We secured a storefront in downtown Asheville to house meeting, work, and exhibit space. ADC’s grand opening took place on September 29, 2006, with ribbon-cutting by Asheville’s Mayor Terry Bellamy.
We have been studying the four NCDoT proposed alternative designs since they were made available in October 2006. We have reached reached consensus on a modification to one of these alternatives.
At the same time, this could create exciting opportunities for sustainable growth and increased “livability” along the riverfront and neighborhoods near downtown Asheville; it also creates the possibility for a new signature bridge over the French Broad River.
Since ADC was created with the I-26 project and AIA funding, we have been incorporated as an independent 501c3 non-profit organization and have pursued a variety of new projects with the support of a variety of community sources. As ADC grows, we continue to provide design expertise and a venue where people can come together to promote livable communities in Asheville and throughout WNC.
Design on a Human Scale
Compact, pedestrian-friendly communities allow residents to walk to shops, services, cultural resources, and jobs and can reduce traffic congestion and benefit people's health.
Design on a Human ScaleCompact, pedestrian-friendly communities allow residents to walk to shops, services, cultural resources, and jobs and can reduce traffic congestion and benefit people's health.
People want variety in housing, shopping, recreation, transportation, and employment. Variety creates lively neighborhoods and accommodates residents in different stages of their lives.
Encourage Mixed-Use Development
Integrating different land uses and varied building types creates vibrant, pedestrian-friendly, and diverse communities.
Preserve Urban Centers
Restoring, revitalizing, and infilling urban centers takes advantage of existing streets, services and buildings and avoids the need for new infrastructure. This helps to curb sprawl and promote stability for city neighborhoods.
Vary Transportation Options
Giving people the option of walking, biking, and using public transit - in addition to driving - reduces traffic congestion, protects the environment, and encourages physical activity.
Build Vibrant Public Spaces
Citizens need welcoming, well-defined public places to stimulate face-to-face interaction, collectively celebrate and mourn, encourage civic participation, admire public art, and gather for public events.
Create a Neighborhood Identity
A "sense of place" gives neighborhoods a unique character, enhances the walking environment, and creates pride in the community.
Protect Environmental Resources
A well-designed balance of nature and development preserves natural systems, protects waterways from pollution, reduces air pollution, and protects property values.
Open space, farms, and wildlife habitat are essential for environmental, recreational, and cultural reasons.
Design excellence is the foundation of successful and healthy communities.
About the Blueprint for America’s 10 Principles of Livable Communities:
The Blueprint for America is a nationwide initiative through which AIA architects engage with fellow citizens, mayors, other professionals, and local government officials to collaborate on a community service program that addresses a community’s distinct need. In 2006, state and local AIA components will propose, convene, and participate in initiatives that utilize community engagement, in a collaborative process, and quality design as keys to improving a community’s livability. These initiatives were developed in 2007, AIA’s anniversary year. In 2008, the AIA national component will compile initiatives and release the national Blueprint for America. Blueprint initiatives are a gift to the community from the members of AIA, and the members’ participation in the initiative is provided at no fee.
For more information on the 10 Principles of Livable Communities visit: http://www.aia.org/liv_principles
For more information on the Blueprint for America visit: http://www.aia150.org/bl150_default.php