During his first year as dean at the University of Detroit Mercy School of Architecture in 1993, Stephen Vogel introduced the idea of a design center housed within an academic context. He enlisted Father Terrence Curry, an architect and full-time faculty member, to the university to establish the design center through a Neighborhood Design Studio in which students invoked the principles of community design through working with community groups in metro Detroit. These students worked closely with neighborhood leaders to assess the current conditions, investigate potentials, propose alternatives, and develop possibilities. The studio explored questions of process, theory, and execution alongside community and volunteer organizations, while emphasizing excellent design through collaboration. The planning analysis began by the Neighborhood Design Studio evolved into several focus projects in relation to community development including: housing, mixed-use, retail, streetscapes, and emergency shelters. Over time the studio grew beyond its limits and evolved into a full-service architectural design center called the Detroit Collaborative Design Center (DCDC).

With the offer to be a Loeb Fellow at Harvard University, Father Curry left the DCDC in 2000. The DCDC is now directed by Dan Pitera, a licensed architect who engages in social and political activism. Pitera came to the DCDC from San Francisco, where he was president of the Center for Critical Architecture/The Art and Architecture Exhibition Space - an outlet for the investigation of experimental architectural explorations. Under Pitera's leadership, the DCDC diversified the nature of its architecture-based projects to include urban design, strategic planning, landscape design, and experimental installations that engage local communities in public dialogue about the value of design in community formation. Today DCDC's staff consists of six full-time architecture, urban design, and landscape architecture professionals, including a Challenge Detroit Fellow, and one to three student coop interns.

The DCDC has staffed or nurtured:
  • 1 Rome Prize Fellow
  • 2 Rose Fellows
  • 4 Challenge Detroit Fellows
  • 1 Ideas Cities Residency: Athens
  • 1 National Arts Strategies Creative Community Fellow
  • 2 Loeb Fellows
  • 1 ULI Fellow
  • 1 Revitalization Fellow
  • 1 880 Cities Emerging Community Champions
  • 1 HKS Fellow
  • 1 Next City Vanguard
  • 1 Salzburg Global Forum Fellow
  • 1 Place Lab Equitable Redevlopment Fellow

The following list includes full-time employees and student coops who have worked with the DCDC over the years.

  • Tariq Abdullah
  • Veronica Allen
  • Claire Antrassian
  • Adriana Bailey-Romero
  • Brandon Becker
  • Daniel Berry
  • Allison Bingham
  • Hannah Birnbaum
  • Carl Bolofer
  • Josh Budiongan
  • Robyn Burgos
  • Jennifer Camp
  • Rocco Castiglione
  • Jana Cephas
  • Monica Chadha
  • Karolina Chaney
  • Brandon Clark
  • Kallene Clark
  • Renee Chlopan
  • Father Terrence Curry
  • Carrie Da Via
  • Brittany Des Rocher
  • MJ Divino
  • Graig Donnelly
  • Miranda Dufresne
  • Ronit Eisenbach
  • Brooke Ellis
  • Sonja Ewing
  • Nicole Fricke
  • Alex Froehlich
  • David Garnett
  • Tony Giacco
  • Peter Gillis
  • Matt Glaab
  • Pablo Gonzales
  • Laura Gornowski
  • Elizabeth Grabowski
  • Johanna Grandy
  • Jessica Green
  • Matt Hall
  • Toni Henry
  • Kyle Hibbard
  • Jessika Hicks
  • Blake Hill
  • Kurt Hilton
  • Laura Howard
  • Carlos Ibarra
  • Priya Iyer
  • Mike Jacobs
  • Spencer Jaskiewicz
  • Donnie Jones
  • Eli Kafer
  • Mais Karadsheh
  • Erin Kelly
  • Sr. Mary Kelly
  • Jacob Klee
  • Fred Klein
  • David Knapp
  • Julia Kowalski
  • James Krygel
  • Lisa Kulawczyk
  • Steve LaGrassa
  • Alison Lampier
  • Sandy Laux
  • Chris Lee
  • Andrew Lehman
  • Stephen Lentini
  • Lauren Leow
  • Laura Levasseur
  • Corissa Leveille
  • Neal Leverenz
  • Tom Lucas
  • Jake Lyon
  • Margot Lystra
  • Andy Malone
  • Mattia Melone
  • Jennifer Massengarb
  • Pinky McDuell
  • Sara McDuffee
  • Drew McNamara
  • Matthew Medley
  • Amber Menchaca
  • Kamila Momot
  • Chandra Moore
  • Jenna Murphy
  • Lauren Myrand
  • Sandra Nava
  • Andrew Nechiporchik
  • Rami Niga
  • Andrew Joseph Noto
  • Irene Figueroa Ortiz
  • Ellita Perez
  • Mauricio PĂ©rez
  • Chris Perkins
  • Chris Petzak
  • Jessica Philips
  • Whitney Philips
  • Kristen Piacitini
  • Nick Piotrowski
  • Ross Piper
  • Chris Pomodoro
  • Kelly Powell
  • John Quaine
  • Joseph Raffin
  • Shurid Rahman
  • Zach Rathwell
  • Molly Redigan
  • Danna Reyes
  • Shanita Rutland
  • Julia Schlau
  • Jessica Schulte
  • Emily Scrimger
  • Staci Seyferth
  • Fatemeh Shanehsazzadeh
  • Jerry Shea
  • Eric Shell
  • Michael Sklenka
  • Theresa Skora
  • Chris Smith
  • Mone Smith
  • Shannon Sommers
  • Andy Sturm
  • Brad Sucher
  • Father Gilbert Sunghera
  • Samantha Szeszulski
  • Ian Templeton
  • Kathleen Teodoro
  • Jake Theut
  • Adam Vermeersch
  • Irina Vermeersch
  • Stephen Vogel
  • Justin Weiber
  • Crystal Whiters
  • Rebecca Willis
  • Krista Wilson
  • Kaija Wuollet
  • Eugenia Yee
  • Julle Zelenock
  • El Rashid Zonrawy