URBAN DATA DESIGN: Design that matters – Powered by data.

UDD was founded in 2010 to work directly with agencies, not for profits, companies and institutions to enable these organizations to intelligently discover knowledge from unstructured content. We help  identify and demonstrate how relevant data can impact decision making processes and ultimately be used to power design and enhanced user experiences.  Our aim is to assist our clients in improving  directives, enhancing processes and realizing design solutions faster thereby  increasing their impact and effectiveness.  We discover, develop and disrupt. We achieve this through research and the creation of insightful pathways using; data, analytics, and visualization tools coupled with programming and strategic design – all of which is uniquely informed by area or industry specific data.  In house we call it:  Design Strategies Powered by Data.

CONSULTING:  Providing consultancy services that foster intelligent planning, products, environments and events is not just a matter of technological innovation.  It also requires a full understanding of various market cultures as well as the human factor – people’s behavior and practices.  As a research and design consultancy we incorporate data into the planning, decision, design and policy making processes.  This provides for greater clarity and comprehension of the salient points of a stated mission as well as more tangible end results.  Our role is to connect the dots operating at various platforms; public to private, and digital to physical, making concrete connections to spearhead positive and effective change.  Consider this quote from Steve Jobs.

“A lot of people in our industry haven’t had very diverse experiences. So they don’t have enough dots to connect, and they end up with very linear solutions without a broad perspective on the problem. The broader one’s understanding of the human experience, the better design we will have. “
Steve Jobs

WHAT:  Data is everywhere, now how does one tap into this wealth of data in a meaningful way? At UDD we aggregate and comb through it to reveal sets of associations that exhibit affinities or interactions between elements inside and outside the data.  This allows us to create uniquely tailored pattern-based strategies and solutions for a variety of purposes such as:  public policy, community engagement, product development, environment creation and  enhancements, and brand positioning.  Our research reveals emerging spatial, technological and environmental interactions and characteristics that influence user awareness and behavior.  We also can reveal what the data will not show, as we understand it is only part of a good story.  This provides our clients with an essential component toward providing greater community coherence, accessibility and participation.

WHO WE WORK WITH: We work with companies, agencies, cities, citizens, institutions and community organizations on such complex issues as growth and planning, product innovation, user interface design, environment enhancements and re-purposing, event planning and programming, and much more. We welcome and encourage partnerships and collaborations with data collection firms, data visualization firms, sociologists, economists, and engineers among others, to provide comprehensive strategies and precise execution.


Co-Founder, Sam Leung is managing partner and principal design consultant.  With a background in economics, mathematics and architecture she approaches problem sets with an innovative practicality. Sam is a licensed architect having designed and completed numerous commissions, a NYC community board 3 economic development committee member and researcher of site performance technology. Sam is also active in the academic community, teaching at Pratt Institute, NY allowing her both insight and hands on access to the ever broadening range of related assessment techniques and practices.

Co-Founder, Shawn Rickenbacker is managing partner and principal research and design consultant.  Shawn holds a Master of Architecture Degree from the University of Virginia  with a Certificate in American Urbanism.  He has over 15 years of design field experience, having practiced architecture, product design and also as a curator of art and exhibitions.  He has taught systemic design approaches at both international and national universities.  His dossier of extensive world travel and a love of systems has forged his creative insight and problem solving skills. His work and design research has been exhibited and published, and has received numerous awards. Shawn is also a faculty member at the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Design where he teaches data driven design, allowing him to put into practice that which he preaches .