At The Commons MACC Development, a combination café-laundromat-community housing center on Detroit’s east side, it’s clear how thoughtful design can bring a neighborhood together. Kids are doing their homework with fruit snacks and a Faygo at the café counter, while residents wait for their laundry sipping coffee and munching on locally sourced baked goods.

The Commons is just one example out of more than 70 projects across Detroit’s 139 square miles that embodies inclusive design, the theme of this year’s Detroit Design 139 (DD139) exhibition, now open at four locations across the city. The neighborhood locations are in the Old Redford (17340 Lahser Rd.), Morningside (16451 E. Warren Ave.) and Fitzgerald/Bagley (7426 McNichols Rd.) communities.

With a strong focus on growing Detroit’s design culture, DD139 is a group of design advocates dedicated to enhancing the design standard for all future projects within Detroit’s 139 square-mile expanse. This group is comprised of representatives from Bedrock, City of Detroit, Design Core and more – each sharing a commitment to organizing and hosting events.

Every two years, DD139 holds its month-long flagship exhibition at 1001 Woodward Ave., with a unique theme each time. Community members are encouraged to participate and submit their projects for the exhibition. The submissions are then selected by a jury and the DD139 advisory committee and the winning projects are displayed for the community to see.

During the 2019 exhibition, DD139 will host more than 30 free and public events, conversations and workshops that contribute to strengthening the city through design processes and outcomes.

The theme for Detroit Design 139’s inaugural exhibition in 2017 was “Detroit Shapes Design,” which featured projects that honored Detroit’s legacy and promoted the city as a world-class design leader. For the second installment of the exhibition, the theme for 2019 is “Inclusive Futures,” which focuses on inclusive neighborhoods, housing, public spaces, economy and city systems­. The idea is that designing a city to be more inclusive encourages cities and their people to thrive, and diverse experiences, collaboration and ample opportunities promote cultural growth.

The exhibit is free to the public and open until September 30. For more information, visit