Minnesota Design Team (MDT) is a multidisciplinary committee of the American Institute of Architects Minnesota — comprising architects, landscape architects, urban designers, planners, and other experts in design and community development. MDT volunteers help communities around Minnesota develop shared visions for improving their physical and environmental designs. Download the MDT informational brochure.

MDT assists communities in planning and designing a viable, appropriate future. It works not only with design issues such as main street improvements, but also with the fundamental planning process that allows residents to take the initiative in continuing to plan a future that reflects the dreams and interests of the community.

MDT believes a community’s future depends on the physical, social, environmental, and economic values its citizens embrace. The work of MDT involves translating these values into sustainable design ideas the community can implement.

Download the Community Workbook or to learn more about scheduling a visit to your community.

Community-Based Planning Principles

  • Recognizing that people are a community’s best resource for visioning and investing in the future.
  • Approaching planning and design problems with an interdisciplinary team to achieve balanced planning and physical design solutions.
  • Understanding that a community’s unique sense of place is developed through respect for the local environmental, physical, social, and economic characteristics.
  • Promoting physical design as an integral component of a community’s quality of life offers the most effective use of the Design Team’s planning and design skills.
  • Encouraging redevelopment in areas where urban infrastructure exists, or new development in areas where infrastructure capacity exists, ensures that a community’s land and utility resources will be used efficiently.
  • Promoting compact development patterns ensures that a community uses its land, transportation, and civic resources wisely.
  • Encouraging development of public-realm amenities that will attract private sector construction is an effective economic development strategy for improving community quality of life.
  • Promoting a range of housing types ensures that citizens of differing incomes, lifestyles, and preferences have a range of housing choices within the community.
  • Promoting a range of commercial building types ensures a range of building and employment choices within the community.
  • Encouraging community stakeholders to collaborate with one another ensures that community improvements are directed responsibly.
  • Using graphics and visual references allows the Design Team to communicate ideas quickly and effectively.

How MDT Began

MDT was originally established in 1983 as “The Governor’s Design Team” as part of the Minnesota Planning Agency, later called the Department of Trade and Economic Development. In 1992, the organization’s name was changed to the Minnesota Design Team (MDT) and became a committee of the American Institute of Architects Minnesota (AIA Minnesota).