Equity Summit 2024 Keynote: April De Simone

April De Simone

Practice of Democracy
Founder, Managing Principal
NOMA, Associate AIA

Learn more about April

At the intersection of social dynamics and spatial design, Ms. De Simone is a socio-spatial practitioner who navigates and investigates the intricate relationship between individuals and their built environment. Her interdisciplinary approach incorporates architectural phenomenology, a philosophical framework that delves into the lived experiences and perceptions of architectural spaces. Through a nuanced understanding of how individuals interact with and interpret their surroundings, Ms. De Simone utilizes the principles of architectural phenomenology to inform her multidimensional research and design practice. This method transcends conventional design considerations, placing emphasis on the experiential aspects of space and the profound impact it has on fostering social connections, identity, and well-being. She harnesses her investigations and research to co-create environments advancing healing, equity, and justice.

Her work is inspired by her experiences growing up in a Bronx, New York neighborhood, steeped in the collateral consequences of intentionally designed systems of inequity. In partnership with diverse stakeholders, she seeks to cultivate reframed opportunities within spatial practice to advance equitable, humane, and just frameworks and projects shaping the conditions of our society.

Bridging theory and practice, April co-founded designing the WE in 2015, co-curating the nationally acclaimed “Undesign the Redline” exhibit. In 2024, she will launch the Practice of Democracy, a decentralized design practice committed to the long-term work of advancing equitable and just systemic change, moving beyond the one-off projects of architecture. Her immersive project, Democracy Is… debuted in 2022 on NYC’s High Line and is touring nationally as a pop-up, with the full exhibition coming in 2024.
Democracy is… is a public engagement campaign calling for our collective attention and action in understanding how democratic values are represented through the environments and systems we plan and design. Told through the voices and lived experiences of the people, this interactive journey delves into a past-to-present timeline, exploring the challenges and triumphs shaping the consciousness and practice of democratic values. Each step is an invitation to uncover what democracy means to people and shed light on the ways we strive for inclusivity, representation, and social justice.

An invited speaker, facilitator, and board member, April’s impact spans issues of equity and design, and was recently recognized by Enterprise Community Partners Impactful 40 in 2022. A Dean Merit Scholar, she holds a Master’s in Design and Urban Ecologies. Currently, she is pursuing her Master’s in Architecture.

The Equity Summit gathers housing, transportation, and community development advocates and leaders to learn from one another and identify tools to advance racial equity through smart growth. The 2024 Summit will be held in person for the first time on March 27-28, 2024 at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library in Washington DC.

Learn more about the Equity Summit here

Advancing Racial Equity