University of Minnesota
University of Minnesota
Minnesota Design Center
College of Design

About the Center

Since its founding in 1988 with a grant from the Dayton Hudson Foundation, the Minnesota Design Center (MDC)—FORMERLY METROPOLITAN DESIGN CENTER—has helped make metropolitan communities more livable and sustainable. The MDC’s teaching, research and outreach efforts bring together university faculty and graduate students with community members and other stakeholders to improve the human, social, economic, and environmental health of urban and suburban places, with the Twin Cities metropolitan area as our focus.

The MDC has, as its goal: Building the 21st Century City. Too many cities continue to follow rules and regulations inherited from the last century, which have led to low-density development, over-extended infrastructure, and single-use zoning. Such development far exceeds our ability to afford it economically, as well as socially and environmentally. The MDC seeks to help cities rethink the assumptions and rewrite the rules guiding development to create a physical environment that is more sustainable, equitable, livable, and resilient.

The MDC also works to prepare cities for what economists call the “third industrial revolution” or the “collaborative economy” emerging in our midst. In contrast to the mass production and mass consumption model that has given form to the cities we occupy today, this new economy requires flexible modes of living, working, making, and moving around that face a number of regulatory and bureaucratic barriers. The MDC seeks to help cities realize the opportunities that this new more-equitable and sustainable economy has to offer.