Gardening and painting
The context is set in an outdoor environment on a contoured site. The two subjects, both facing different directions, view the surronding from different perspectices. Isha is gardening while Michaela is painting. Michaela deploys the shade from the canopies made of carbon fibers. The verying height of the juxtaposed canopies allows sunlight through it and filters it in some areas. The landscaping on site plays an integral role as it supports and enhances the setting both functionally and aesthetically. The deciduous maple tree intervening through the canopies portrays the fall season and depicts the transition between the two spaces (shaded and non-shaded). They filter sunlight and control the breeze in that space amplifying the feel of being in an outdoor environment and in close proximity of nature. The shrubs on the side supplement the plain air experience while the pink flowering plants are subjected to the activity of gardening. Overall, the open environment alleviates both the subjects to comfortably carry out their respective activities, making it psychologically pleasant and aesthetically pleasing.
Designing restrooms to accommodate people who identify as transgender
The purpose of this proposal is to create a safe environment for people who identify as transgender or gender non-conforming to use the restroom or other public facilities such as changing rooms and locker rooms. The most inclusive approach will benefit this demographic of people, as well as everyone in the built environment, no matter their age, race, sexual identity, gender identity, or abilities. This design creates a safe, inclusive restroom that maintains privacy and does not exclude access to any person. The space includes private stalls with full height partitions and doors, an area for hand washing, a separate area for grooming, and an area for people to wait or rest.
The design solves the problem of safety, by making an open corridor that allows people to “keep an eye on” what’s going on, and allows sound to travel from the washing/ grooming stations to the outer lounge area, while still maintaining privacy. There are ADA inclusive stalls, larger stalls for somebody that may be with a companion, and rooms for lactation and baby changing or relaxation. The sink counter and grooming counter are open underneath to accomodate users who have a wheelchair, and there is a 42” clear path at all points throughout the space. The space encourages health and wellness by offering a social lounging area with a water bottle refill station and water fountains.
The design prototype could be modified to fit a locker room, shower room, or changing room. For example, if it was a locker room, each stall on one side could include a shower and dressing area instead of a toilet. Furthermore, the breastfeeding rooms could function as changing rooms instead.
Improving the air travelers experience through airport design
The purpose of this research is to understand what aesthetic and spatial conditions contribute to a passenger’s stress within an airport terminal. The atmosphere of the airport terminal typically promotes stress, increased tension, and negative emotional responses for the many millions of airport travelers. As Symonds (2012) states, “airports can be highly emotive places.” Air travel excitement can easily be replaced with high-stress levels the moment it looks as though one’s flight may be canceled, one may be running late for a flight due to a long security line, or one gets lost in the terminal due to poor directional signage. Although the recent coronavirus pandemic has temporarily caused a drastic reduction in air travel, it is expected that air travel will again reach its prior level of use when the pandemic subsides. Therefore, it is important to examine the relationship between airport design and its impact on the emotional experiences of air travelers. This research aims to understand (1) how stress levels are affected by various scenarios within the airport and (2) what conditions and features help to alleviate stress within the airport. To what extent can airport terminal design reduce stress among all travelers? More specifically, what design features within airport terminals have either a positive or negative impact on traveler stress? Multiple methods of gathering information included a literature review on airport terminal design, and related research on design elements that increase or reduce an individual’s stress level. Complementing the literature review was a survey completed by 88 air travelers, a focus group of six design experts, as well as previous information gathered through an interview pilot study of 42 air travelers. The survey of air travelers found that various areas within airport terminals had differential effects on stress levels. The most stressful area was the security checkpoint. Other design aspects such as additional seating, access to visual information, and access to live greenery resulted in stress reduction. Additionally, in contrast to an initial hypothesis, there were no differences in experienced stress between travelers who traveled less than 10 times/year and those who traveled more frequently (10+times/year). This suggests that universal design solutions addressing stress should be helpful to all travelers. The findings from this research resulted in design recommendations for improved security checkpoints as well as recommendations for the isUD certification program (innovative solutions for Universal Design) to improve the airport experience for all air travelers.
Thesis Committee: Sue Weidemann, Beth Tauke & Jordana Maisel
LGBTQ+ exclusivity in urban settings: rethinking the 33
The United States is not universally inclusive in terms of its urban centers. Some cities are betters than others at accommodating a diverse population. This research focuses on LGBTQ+ exclusivity in these urban settings, specifically looking at Buffalo as a research model.
Universal Design Goals:
Body Fit: Surfaces are at-grade with minimal sloping
Awareness: Pedestrian and Automobile signage has been enhanced; Tactile walking surfaces and audible crossing signals have also been added
Understanding: Design is meant to be open and inviting with clearly delineated areas for pedestrian and vehicular access Social Integration: Removal of sunken freeway allows for neighborhoods to be reconnected. Walkways are wide enough for people passing each other and encourage social interaction
Wellness: Removal of freeway and addition of green space aids in offsetting noxious exhaust fumes
Comfort: The additional green spaces and seating areas provide comfort options for everyone
Cultural Appropriation: The design reflects the area’s past while providing access and opportunities for all cultures Personalization: Residents can assist in providing plantings to the greenspaces abutting their property
Spotting and doing pre-natal yoga
A poche was created by making the ceiling lower and using large sliding doors leading to the outdoor to create a personal space for doing pre-natal yoga, with views to the exterior. The space required for spotting gymnastics is much larger, and needs a higher ceiling height, because of the vertical activity. Skylights were placed above the space for spotting because natural light is needed, but outdoor scenery can be distracting. A resting, neutral zone where both activitites can come together is incorportated in the middle of the space. Individuals can relax and rest. The roof is slanted, with a sun-light that has wooden shutter shades so that light can be controlled. The slanted roof also signifies the transition in activities.
This studio explored architectural solutions to homelessness, and how inclusive design thinking can lead to innovative solutions to this global problem. The semester’s program included research, awareness raising activities, space programming and building design.
Students worked in two to three person teams and individually to produce:
- Research on the causes of homelessness and strategies to eliminate it
- Personas of homeless people to serve as inspiration for programming and design
- Proposals for a real-world project in Buffalo
- Proposals for innovative programs and services
- Compelling architectural visions
The major question explored in the studio was: “How can inclusive design contribute to solving problems of temporary and chronic homelessness?”
Empathy and difference
The relationship between designer and user is inevitably marked by difference; in most cases, the designer’s lived identity and experiences are different than those of the user for which they design. These differences may be the direct or indirect result of language, race, sex, ability and physiology, among other factors. This difference is unavoidable, but should not be seen as restrictive. Inclusive design requires difference to be acknowledged, understood and bridged.
Empathy can be used as a tool for acknowledging and addressing difference between the designer and user. The notion of empathy is closely related to its historical precursor, sympathy, but takes on a more specific definition in the context of inclusive design. Where the two concepts do overlap, sympathy implies sharing (or having the capacity to share) the feelings of another, while empathy implies imagining, or having the capacity to imagine, feelings that one does not actually have. Empathy is the ability to recognize, internalize and relate to difference.
As a technical methods course, students engaged methodology directly by enacting it. The seminar used its participants as its case studies. Throughout the semester, students alternatively assumed both the roles of user and designer, to understand difference and action empathy among the group. The group first learned to understand and articulate their own differences and how they impact relationships to space. Through introspection, vulnerability, and ultimately empathy, students then worked in pairs to assimilate these differences and design with them in mind.
Design for inclusive environments
Inclusive Design empowers the people who use products, buildings and communities by taking their perspective and making it the central focus of the design process. Rooted in a critique of designer-centric practice and embracing an ethic of social responsibility, this new paradigm focuses on developing form from function to increase the usefulness and responsiveness of our physical world for a diverse range of people. Students selected a group of individuals currently excluded from the environment and prepared a literature review. Students then conducted a focused interview with a person currently excluded from the environment. Based on the interview, students identified a design need and developed a preliminary schematic plan and/or design proposal.