Our Story


Better Communities by Design


To Envision, Inspire and Improve East Tennessee through Design


ETCDC is a nonprofit organization whose goal is to make East Tennessee a better place to live and work by bringing professional design and planning assistance to community groups and nonprofit organizations. East Tennessee Community Design Center receives pro bono design assistance from area architects, landscape architects, planners, and other professionals.

East Tennessee Community Design Center was envisioned in 1969, when Bruce McCarty, then the President of the local chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA), visited the community design center in Philadelphia. Bruce returned to “pitch the idea” to some 40 local professionals that Knoxville too was in need of a community design center.

On April 15, 1970 the East Tennessee Community Design Center was incorporated for one purpose, to bring professional design and planning services to nonprofit groups and agencies that lack the resources to obtain these services through the private sector.

The center is a 501(c)(3) corporation with an all-volunteer board of directors and a small staff of three full-time personnel, Executive Director, Administrator, and Intern Architect. Part-time staff includes Studio Design Director, DesignWorks Program Coordinator, and Administrative Assistant.

Funding to sustain the operations is solely from competitive grants and from donations of our corporate and individual friends. We do request a donation from our clients as well, which is used to help offset our cost associated with providing them assistance.

In 2013 East Tennessee PBS made a half-hour documentary on us. Click below to go to their site and watch the video!

In 2020 we celebrated our 50th anniversary as an organization. Click below to watch our video celebrating our work since 1970!

Want to help? Become a member, volunteer or make a donation!