David Johnson

  • David Johnson SmithGroup Detroit
  • Detroit 02 Location
  • david johnson hobby smithgroup

"I view the built environment—which appears static—as a dynamic setting," says David. "It’s similar to a theatrical stage, with drama, intrigue, compelling dialogue and durable meaning." This human experience is the foundation of David’s approach to architecture; he is widely recognized for his application of human psychology principles to the design of all varieties of university facilities and campuses, which are experiencing historic levels of change. "My early career was all about ‘what will it look like and how will we build it?’" he notes. "Now it’s more the ‘why’ of design strategy—working directly with client leadership to define needs, priorities and opportunities for transformation." He sees design becoming more and more collaborative engaging a broader platform of social scientists, designers, clients, and co-creators. There’s one place, though, where David is clearly captain of the ship: aboard his sailboat on Lake Saint Clair. "Sailing is my primary interest outside of work; knots and tension," he quips.

Inclusive Campus Design Workshop

Inclusive design emerges from a core assertion: we experience space differently. While designers have engaged domains like mobility and perception, few have made attempts to confront negative cultural messaging in the built environment. Critical Race Theory provides a lens for exploring and dismantling, these expressions of socioeconomic power. Building on applied student research from Portland Community College, workshop participants will explore socio-spatial attributes of an inclusive campus.