Design for Life

Page 1


Architecture Landscape Architecture Graphic Design







SANKOFA Malcolm Woolen & Yasmine Abbas




COR-A Madison Urich


COVID-19 MAP Jacob Lawall


LUDUS Cassie Luzenski, Taylor Mazzarella & Emily Watkins


AGBOGBLOSHIE DK Osseo-Asare & Yasmine Abbas




BLOOM Anjana Padmakumar






HURRICANE MARIA Julio C. Verdejo-Ortiz






FIRESIDE Connor Schwenk




COVID KIT Anjana Padmakumar


SEA LEVEL RISE Peter Stempel


DELHI METRO Shatakshi Mehra




CREDITS Patricia Kucker Director, Stuckeman School; Teaching Professor of Architecture Lisa Iulo Director of the Hamer Center for Community Design; Associate Professor of Architecture Taylor Shipton Design Director. Assistant Teaching Professor of Graphic Design Scotti Everhart Designer. Graphic Design Student Class of 2022 Victoria Millsap Designer. Graphic Design Student Class of 2022 Pamela Krewson Wertz Editor, Director of Marketing & Communications



seemingly minor improvements can have

within the Stuckeman School at Penn

an incredible impact as a catalytic moment

State features innovative problem-solving

for change.

approaches for improving communities and the conditions of human life by address-

Design for Life reflects a shift in the ethics

ing complex and systemic social, political,

of design services that was brought to

and economic issues through design. The

public attention in 2007 through a series of

creative disciplines housed within the

exhibitions held at the Cooper Hewitt and

Stuckeman School are architecture, graphic

Smithsonian museums that were curated by

design, and landscape architecture. In a

Cynthia Smith. These exhibitions and their

distinct manner, these disciplines offer

subsequent publications — titled “Design

design solutions that encompass the human

for the other 90%” and “Design with the

experience within the natural and con-

other 90%,” respectively — were global in

structed environment, as well as the human

focus and highlighted the problem-solv-

experience with visual and virtual systems

ing ingenuity of local communities, which

of communication and collaboration. All

are typically comprised of non-designers,

three disciplines propose design solutions

as well as a growing league of communi-

that are in the service of communities; de-

ty-minded designers, non-profit organiza-

signs that engage their intended users. The

tions, and philanthropists.1 Smith’s focus was

designers in the Stuckeman School employ

on the design approaches and products

a variety of partners in the design process

that seek to improve the human condition

with an informed empathy for user needs

by explicitly addressing pressing needs in

and experiences resulting in innovation and

developing countries for energy, water and

solutions that positively impact the human

sanitation, shelter, health, and transport.

condition in both small and more robust

When reviewing the exhibition in 2007, New

ways. A thoughtful design can provoke

York Times critic Alice Rawson considered

system-wide transformations, and even

the poignant title of the exhibition, “Design


Design for Life


PROJECT: Hurrican Maria Recovery Julio C. Verdejo-Ortiz

for the other 90%,” and remarked on the

cal and economic landscapes of what came

historic and often prevailing role of design-

to be described as the “Fourth World” in

ers when she said, “The numbers seem

the United States. Even though the United

nutty. There are 6.5 billion people on this

States is an industrialized nation with one of

earth that cannot afford basic products and

the world’s largest developed economies,

services … Why are designers so focused

millions of Americans reside in conditions

on designing for the wealthiest 10%?” 2

comparable to what can be found in the most distressed “third world” or “develop-

Rawson’s provocation struck a chord with

ing” countries. These conditions gave rise

the public and with the design community.

to Olon Dotson’s term the “Fourth World” to

Soon Smith began another field investi-

describe the most impoverished conditions

gation and focused on the most pressing

of the poor and marginalized communities

challenges facing communities in the most

in the United States.3

developed of nations, the United States. Culturally, geographically, and by climate

More than 33 million Americans live on

regions, the United States of America is an

incomes that are below $26,500 a year and

incredibly large and diverse nation. Smith’s

incomes below this amount for a family of

investigation revealed the distressed physi-

four identify families experiencing poverty,



according to the 2021 Poverty Guidelines.4

condition. These methods include the role

Many working families, with incomes at

design can play in acting as a catalyst for

or near poverty, rely on food stamps and

change in assisting people in learning

public health programs for the most basic

new skills and concepts, in improving the

services. Full-time workers earning the fed-

ways in which people live and communi-

eral minimum wage ($7.25 per hour in 2021

ties thrive, in improving the economy and

or approximately $15,000 annually) cannot

vibrancy of neighborhoods, and in recogniz-

afford modest housing at fair market rates.

ing and preserving that which is authentic

This Fourth World landscape of economic

and essential to a community’s identity. At

hardship and marginalized communities is

its best, design improves people’s lives

the result of historical circumstances that

every day and benefits the communities in

include the American economic de-indus-

which they live and work.

trialization, segregation, and discrimination patterns, as well as suburban sprawl. Although many consider the inner city as the site of poverty, the low cost of suburban housing over time has drawn urban marginalized communities and poverty to the sub-

Smith, C. E. (2007). Design for the Other 90%. Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum Smithsonian. See also, Smith, C. E. (2011). Design with the other 90%: Cities. Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum Smithsonian. 1

of a viable tax base, racism, inability to em-

Rawsthorn, Alice. “Alice Rawsthorn on design for the unwealthiest 90 percent.” New York Times. April 29, 2007. style/27iht-design30.1.5470390.html

brace the concepts of desegregation and


urbs. According to Dotson, the Fourth World circumstances are defined by the “erosion

civil rights legislation, fear, despair, crumbling infrastructure systems, disinvestment in urban school systems, and environmental justice issues.” 5 The most salient outcomes from Smith’s research that includes communities across the globe and within the United States are the collaborative approaches that design can play to positively impact the human


Dotson, Olon. “Introduction to the Fourth World,” Design Altruism Project. July 15, 2020 (blog). http:// Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (2021). “Poverty Guidelines.” Department of Health and Human Services. poverty-economic-mobility/poverty-guidelines/ prior-hhs-poverty-guidelines-federal-register-references 4

Dotson, Olon. “Introduction to the Fourth World,” Design Altruism Project. July 15, 2020 (blog). http:// 5


Design for Life


The 25 concepts featured in the Design

for social change. Other design proposals

for Life exhibition and publication include

recognize the myriad of forces challenging

proposals for buildings, landscapes, post-

a community, such as climate change, and

ers, and digital applications that have been

through design seek solutions and tools

completed by faculty and students within

to create a self-sustaining and resilient

the Stuckeman School. In each project,


design functions as a provocation, an affordance, and/or an instrument fashioned to engage users in behaviors and experiences that will improve their communities, and their daily lives.

“These projects are identified with a resilience icon ” Some of the design proposals are, themselves, forms of engagement that bring an

Design functions in many ways that can

often invisible or marginalized community

be unexpected. For example, some of the

together and provoke empathy and under-

design proposals presented seek ways to

standing of the human condition.

improve personal or public health and wellness or gently probe community perceptions of prescient social and cultural issues

“These projects bear the community icon ”

to raise difficult conversations and educate the community.

Designers of community are creating opportunities for more people, including

“In this publication, these projects are marked with a health icon or with the learning icon ,” and many of these projects are innovative educational initiatives that grow from the multidisciplinary approach of design thinking. In this manner, design can help empower community members to advocate


underrepresented communities, to share, learn, create, and improve their lives. - Patricia Kucker & Lisa Iulo




July 2016 – Present

PROJECT NARRATIVE THE CONTEXT The Amazon Rainforest is a critical life support system for all, regulating local and global climate, providing one-fifth of the ocean’s freshwater supply, and supporting 10% of the world’s plant and animal species, including 25% of Western pharmaceuticals. However, recent increases in mining, agri01

culture, and oil extraction threaten Amazon ecosystems, spurring mass species loss and causing rapid migration from Indigenous villages to jungle cities, such as Iquitos, Peru (population 500,000). With nowhere to go, more than 90,000 Indigenous migrants in Iquitos settle at the urban jungle edge in amphibious communities on the Amazon floodplains, expanding the urban footprint and causing further ecological destruction. These Indigenous

02 01 More than 90,000 people, most of whom are of Indigenous descent, live in informal amphibious communities in Iquitos, a city in the Peruvian Amazon Rainforest. 02 The informal community of Claverito is one such community that floats on the flood plains of the Amazon River at the city’s edge.

migrants struggle to adapt from nature-rich lifestyles to the harsh city and find themselves living in slum conditions with a multitude of health issues caused by poor environmental conditions, an unbalanced ecosystem, and a lack of access to safe water or sanitation. The informal community of Claverito is one such amphibious community that supports 280 residents, 240 domestic animals, and hundreds of species of wild animals.




The InterACTION Labs program is an ongo-

The Claverito Waterfront Park, a

ing design activism and trans-disciplinary

3,000-square-meter phased park on the

action research project that hypothesizes

hillside leading into Claverito supports

that strategically designed environmental

accessible stairs, an artful mural, amphithe-

improvements can address systemic inter-

ater, community center, L ittle Free Library,

twined human and ecological health, or

and a series of terraced infiltration gardens

“One Health,” especially in at-risk commu-

with plants for medicine, food, and habitat.

nities’ integrated landscapes. A communi-

Sixty custom-designed household floating

ty-drive program, the interdisciplinary team

gardens support plants for food, medi-

of U.S. and Peruvian designers, research-

cine, and beautification. Future projects

ers, and students from five universities

envisioned by Claverito include a float-

and eight research centers work closely

ing restaurant, Indigenous maker-space,

with Claverito residents to design a built

floating soccer field, and infrastructure and

environment and health intervention each

ecological restoration to simultaneously

year and measure changes in One Health

support ecotourism and urban biodiversity.

over time. Projects are defined based on community-identified needs and priorities, and the team uses participatory techniques in design, construction, management, and research. 11


THE IMPACT With each project, the trans-disciplinary team is conducting longitudinal research to track changes in One Health measures in Claverito. So far, the team has documented significant improvements in food and medicine security; anemia; depression and anxiety symptoms; biodiversity of plants, birds, and butterflies; and environmental satisfaction, and noted reduction in vector-borne disease risk, gastrointestinal illnesses, trash, injuries, and perception of crime. THE PEDAGOGY Training and education programs embed-

Health Nursing Scholars to engage with

ded within the projects prepare the

research activities alongside faculty and

next generation with applied trans-


disciplinary problem-solving skills while providing fresh solutions to complex “wicked problems.” Design projects are paired with health programs, and participatory processes sharpen skills within communities. The program engages students, medical residents, and emerging professionals through study abroad programs, design studios, and the InterACTION Labs Scholars and Fellows bi-country exchange program. In addition, the program hosts the National Institutes of Health Fogarty Global Health Fellows and the University of Washington Center for Global


This program is a partnership between Penn State, Traction, the Centro de Investigaciones Tecnológicas, Biomédicas y Ambientales in Peru (CITBM), the University of Washington, Universidad Nacional de la Amazonía Peruana, Instituto de Medicina Tradicional, Universidad Ceitnfífica del Perú, Municipality of Maynas, and the National Institutes of Health in both Peru and the United States. Led by the 280 residents of the community of Claverito and orchestrated by co-investigators Leann Andrews (Penn State/Traction/CITBM) and Coco Alarcón (University of Washington/Traction/CITBM), this project has involved more than 110 U.S. and Peruvian students, researchers, and practitioners from 28 different disciplines.






Spring 2020

PROJECT NARRATIVE INTRODUCTION Sankofa Village Community Garden is an

“How can architecture contribute to inclu-

organization in Pittsburgh dedicated to

sive sustainable community development?

the Homewood neighborhood and elimi-

How can spatial design, geometry, building

nating food apartheid. It is also intended to

atmosphere, and ambiance contribute to

restore links between generations as a way

revitalize and strengthen community and

to strengthen the community. These efforts

participate to its well-being?”

will enable the community to benefit from food self-sufficiency, place-based urban

The Sankofa is a West African symbol, a

agriculture education, community access

drawing that represents a concept. The

to food production, and opportunities for

Sankofa has either the form of a heart or

entrepreneurship. The organization is

that of a bird that turns its head back to

intending to expand its facilities, adding

get an egg. It means “turn back and fetch

a larger garden and community education

it” (Robert Sutherland Rattray,1927). In the

center. The underlying design research

context of this project, it calls for attention

questions of the spring 2020 studio were:

to tradition and cyclicality.

Alex Tackacs


THE PROJECT Presently, most gardens are designed for the mainstream population, the uniqueness of “Keelin’s Place” will be the reverse. An essential part of the program relates to the selling of fresh vegetables to residents of the neighborhood. This could be done in three ways: a drive-thru vegetable stand, a you-pick vegetable wall, and a covered market structure. The drive-thru would Amanda Hoffman

operate on weekends; the you-pick wall would primarily be for the needs of the homeless; finally, the market structure would make space available for vegetable sellers from both inside and outside the neighborhood on specific days. THE CONTEXT The Sankofa Community Garden is located in the South Homewood neighborhood on the east side of Pittsburgh. It was once a neighborhood of mixed races and ethnicities. Following the 1950s, there was ‘white flight’ and a migration of African Americans from the Hill District. The following decades were marked by population loss and disinvestment until more recent times when a number of community partners have collaborated on a new plan for the neighborhood.

Emily Troutman



THE PEDAGOGY Integrative Design: Energy is part of the

attentiveness to this project. Though the

agenda from the start. Principles of good

neighborhood is unpretentious, one can be

energy performance and the demands of

certain than those who live there hold deep

net-zero planning should be part of the

feelings for this place.

creative process at the beginning, not necessary afterthoughts. To achieve this,

Resolution: A critical consideration in com-

students were are asked to engage in a

prehensive design involves understand-

non-linear process in which they alternate

ing an appropriate level of resolution for

between different scales and consider-

communicating the work. The quality of the


students’ instruction was directly related to the thoughtfulness and resolution of

Landscape + Architecture: Students should

the production, drawings, and models,

aim for “Gesamtkunstwerk,” Geraman for

that were presented.

a total work of art. Spatial experience and meanings of the site idea were to support an architectural idea and vice versa. Diagonal Thinking: Architectural ideas were to be formed and developed to perform diagonally, using poetic means to embrace energy, site, and program. The desired condition was multivalent where many meanings and functions can coexist. Empathy and Humility: Students were to remind themselves that they know very little about the site and the experience of those living there. Even after the students finished this project, they will still know little. For these reasons, students were asked to bring a spirit of respect, empathy, and


Faculty Malcolm Woollen, Lecturer of Architecture; Yasmine Abbas, Assistant Teaching Professor of Architecture; Sam Rubenstein, Teaching Assistant Students WOOLLEN SECTION | Hannah Baker, Kelly Beggin, Sarah Felter, Amanda Hoffman, Nicholas Leuser, Marzena Nowobilski, Manushiben Patel, Brenna Pribanic, Sean A. Rutala, Hannah Monnerat Spolidoro, Alexander Takacs, Emily Troutman, Noah Villeroel ABBAS SECTION | G M Akand Abir, Earl Dan Baua, Beverly Harper Brockway, Holly Chowning, Jennie Ewton, James Graef, Megan Harding, Jillian Kreglow, Jennifer Carvajal Moreno, Teresa Pecher, Fionna Schoener, Trey Williams, Jacob Woods Sankofa Village Community Garden Vikki Ayanna Jones, Qaadir Anderson Perry Penn State Center Pittsburgh Lisa Vavro, Thomas Bartnik





Quantified Walk

Spring 2020

PROJECT NARRATIVE THE PROJECT The project is to fabricate a pair of wearable

limbs. The leggings are industrially-knitted

leggings embedded with sensors, which

stretch cotton and polyester with integrat-

can help identify a

ed knitted conductive

“Materials of this nature, walk. This is useful which reveal new fissures because if the walk and opportunities in identification is cultural, social, and political accurate enough, the practices, are becoming leggings can be used more commonplace.”

circuits, which connect

for diagnoses of

as find the geospatial

person’s a gait or

diseases, such as Parkinson’s, or help athletes or dancers train their bodies based on the position of their


to sensors that can measure the positions of the ankle, knee, and hip of each leg relative to each other, as well position of the person

wearing the leggings.

The leggings use flexible, soft circuits that are integrated into a breathable cotton stretch material through which live data was designed to stream. THE IMPACT If this can be achieved, sensor data measuring walking patterns may be done without requiring a Kinect-type sensor, which can measure the patterns of walking in a fixed room or area, or, alternatively,

“the person would not have to strap on six sensors and coordinate them to monitor their walking patterns.”


Instead, the data can be centralized and collected via wireless transmission from the body of a person who is free to walk anywhere they can get a signal from a cell phone. This means that a person could walk their dog or collect groceries while gathering data. In addition, the project permits physicians to better understand the patterns of their patients outside of the clinic, hospital, or office, so that they can better calibrate any




Quantified Walk

01 The sensors used on this project. They are offthe-shelf sensors that permitted the researchers to prototype inexpensively and rapidly. 02 The lastest prototypej. The researchers tried to integrate the knitting into the leggings; however, the team liked an earlier prototype that could be more easily dismantled into its parts for reuse. 03 A prototype that did not have the circuits integrated into the leggings was one that worked the best. Machine learning was used to compare the sensor motion to various patterns of walking, running, and going up stairs.


Faculty Felecia Davis, PI, Associate Professor, Stuckeman Center for Design Computing; Conrad Tucker, Co-PI, Arthur Hamerschlag Career Development Professor of Mechanical Engineering, Carnegie Mellon; Delia Dumitrescu, Co-PI, Professor, The Swedish School of Textiles, Smart Textile Lab, Boras, Sweden Research Assistants Shokofeh Darbari, M.Arch. student, Stuckeman School; Yi Dong, M.S. student, Harold and Inge Marcus Department of Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering; Vernell Noel, Assistant Professor of Architecture and Interactive Computing, Georgia Tech






January 2020 - Present

PROJECT NARRATIVE THE CONTEXT “Cor-a” is a social justice and community-engaged design project serving female sexual assault survivors, both present survivors and the women that statistics predict will become one. The project was developed in a capstone graphic design studio course and has since grown and taken on nonprofit status as a functioning organization meeting community needs in real time.

“Cor-a improves the livelihood of its intended community” At a fundamental level, Cor-a is a social justice movement advocating for the dignity and justice of rape and sexual assault survivors by stemming discussions and providing a testament to the realities of the experience. Cor-a’s work is in empowering survivors’ lives through three needs-based and quantitative practices: 1) Curating and donating care 01

packages that are distributed at sexual assault clinics and crisis centers; 2) Building a community of survivors who support each

01 Journal Design Specific to Sexual Assault Processing and Healing 02 Care Package Contents


other in the healing process; and 3) Raising awareness of the sexual assault crisis for

02 those who may be misled or unaware of the

narrative on the topic of rape and sexual

severity and frequency of the trauma. Every

assault for public audiences. Cor-a is

touch point of the trifold mission is designed

designed to thrive dependently on public

with empathic consideration and atten-

engagement. Artists, specifically female

tion to both quantitative and qualitative

survivors of assault, contribute their cre-

research. The success of the organization

ative works of personal and befitting mean-

is a result of experiential design, graphic

ing, which are then printed on clothing and

design, and community platform design.

other items that are included in the care packages that are given to new survi-


vors. This provides new survivors the

Cor-a improves the livelihood of its intend-

reassurance that there is a community of

ed community through unique, layered

women actively supporting them with the

care practices purposed for meeting the

prescience to care for their physical and

physical and emotional needs of survivors

emotional vulnerabilities before the trauma

while providing an informed and forthright

ever occurred. The opportunity to create art



centered around the intricacies of sexual assault and recovery purposed for helping others is a healing and strengthening creative pursuit for previous survivors in reaching other women have, or who will, walk in their shoes. In addition to these deeply personal endeavors, a broader community is reached and educated on the realities of rape and sexual assault forensic examination, the lack of attention and conversation dedicated to providing resources for the survivor throughout the experience, and given practical opportunities to create change. The innovation of Cor-a lies in its empathetic and creative approach to services and platform development for an underserved, misrepresented community of women through collaborative and curatorial practices.

“Year after year survivors of sexual assault, after enduring one of the most dehumanizing experiences, are walking out of hospitals in paper gowns; stripped of the basic dignity to be clothed.”


Student Madison Urich, B.Des. in Graphic Design, Minors in Architecture Studies and Entrepreneurship & Innovation, Arts Focus, 2020.





Covid-19 Map

November - December 2020

PROJECT NARRATIVE This solution for an application that can function in the world that has been affected by the COVID-19 virus is a map redesign that helps to keep track of COVID capacity limits. The redesign can be described as a system of color-coded public space visualizations that can be applied to a wide range of public areas. Most specifically, the app was desgined to serve 2020 holiday shoppers operating in a post-COVID-19 world. The visual interface was specifically designed to appeal to the winter season as well. During the moments approaching the 2020 holiday shopping season, it was widely accepted that COVID-19 could be spread quickly in public spaces, yet there were minimal standards put in place at shopping malls, centers, airports, etc., to help get ahead of regulating the inevitable Christmas shopping. 01 01 Real Time Updates The app’s interface color changes to match activity and danger levels of each area. The user is appropriately alerted of higher risk areas. The search function can be uitlized for a closer look at the activity within each store.

THE CONTEXT Statistic projections estimated that online shopping would be at an all-time high in 2020 and that delivery services would eventually become overworked, resulting in families receiving Christmas gifts late. Due to the limits of online shopping, the signs were also pointing to heavy activity


01 in malls becoming a problem, especially in

green, yellow, and red to communicate ac-

comparison to previous weeks and months.

tivity levels within the area. Similarly, each

Thus the target audiece was identifed.

store within a mall or shopping center will

The people who end up shopping in person

change colors as well. Additional function-

were not simply those who were not wor-

ality, such as providing the estimated time

ried about COVID; instead, many in-person

a store will be less busy, provides the user

shoppers were going to malls and shopping

with the ability to plan out their shopping trips

areas out of necessity. This map system

to cut back on possible exposure time.

was catered to these shoppers, who would be looking to stay as safe as possible on

This application is also designed for a variety

their mandatory shopping trips.

of secondary and tertiary audiences, including shop owners, online shoppers,

The mobile application has a simplified

and mall loiterers. This results in the appli-

interface. The user has the ability to search

cation remaining relevant and applicable

for a mall and see how busy it is without

beyond Christmas shopping. The maps

even leaving the house. If the mall is too

and locations available within the app can

crowded for their comfort, the application suggests similar locations. The map of each location will change colors between


Covid-19 Map

be modified for a wide range of public spaces. Movie theaters, hospitals, sports arenas, etc., can follow the same color system techniques, and the application’s interface can be updated visually depending on the appropriate season. THE IMPACT This application and the kiosk design work to improve the lives of community members by promoting a healthy outlook on public shopping. Everyone should be considerate about social distancing, and not overcrowding areas that otherwise need to be accessed.


Student Jacob Lawall, B.Des. in Graphic Design, Class of 2022






Fall 2020

PROJECT NARRATIVE THE CONCEPT A theoretical sexual health brand aimed to redefine love and the attitude associated with practicing safe sex. Many sexual health products are branded through a masculine lens.

“Ludus is a Greek term referencing playful love between young lovers.” Approaching love through a delicate and playful lens, Ludus aims to create products that all lovers can rely on to prioritize their sexual health and feel comfortable doing so. Ludus is a Greek term referencing playful love or the affection between young lovers. From ancient love letters to passionate goddesses, the essence of this brand is captured through Greek mythology. 01 Packaging design for the condoms. 02 Product packaging for delivery, both online and on store shelves. 03 Series for a social media campaign focused on empowering women with confidence.



THE IMPACT Ludus is a sexual health brand that redefines love and sex to a new audience. Currently, sexual health products are branded in a masculine way with an aggressive lens, causing people to feel uncomfortable and judged when they buy these products. This leads to people having unprotected sex. Ludus addresses this problem by approaching sex as playful. We aim to serve young women and people in the LGBTQIA+ community. Ludus improve the lives of people in this community by making them feel comfortable purchasing sexual health products and allowing them to practice safe sex without any judgment. THE APPLICATION The Social Campaign: The photos in the social campaign were heavily inspired from Renaissance paintings of Greek goddesses and muses. This was intended to create an ethereal feel in the photos, which feel inviting and seductive. The social campaign itself resembles that of a diary and allows the viewer into the model’s inner thoughts about love and sex. The social campaign promotes




the overarching brand of Ludus and its mission

“to make to make having sex be a be beautiful, inviting and comfortable.” Condom/Dental Dam Packaging: These products feature Renaissance-inspired photos that focus on the body parts of an individual rather than their looks in order to make the consumer feel confident and comfortable. Product Packaging: The packaging comes in three variations: one for inside/ outside condoms, one for dental dams, and a variety pack that would include both. The Confidante: This is a refillable box option that people could purchase. It is an engraved, wooden box that clasps in the front in order to provide privacy while being able to be left out on a bedside table without the user feeling judged or


Students Cassie Luzenski, B.Des. in Graphic Design, 2021; Taylor Mazzarella, B.Des. in Graphic Design, 2021; Emily Watkins, B.Des. in Graphic Design, 2021. Class GD495 Independent Study under Taylor Shipton, Assistant Teaching Professor







PROJECT NARRATIVE Started in 2013, the Agbogbloshie Maker-

engineering, the arts, and mathematics) from

space Platform (AMP) uses a participatory

Africa, Europe and North America. They all

approach that emphasizes the value of lo-

collaborated to research, co-design, and

cal expertise and participation in the design

prototype AMP, as well as experiment with

and making of things. Through locally-driv-

materials sourced from the scrapyard to

en design and making opportunities, AMP

develop potentially saleable products.

aims to address urban resilience and community empowerment. Over multiple years,


members of the Agbogbloshie scrap-dealer

AMP has three components that function

and maker community participated in maker

together: (1) the Spacecraft or makerspace

workshops to drive “interclass innovation”

kiosk, which is a modular construction sys-

– creating a space to learn from and col-

tem that is light, mobile, and expandable,

laborate with peers from different economic,

and features prefabricated (recycled) steel

ethnic, tribal, and religious backgrounds –

semi-octet trusses that can be assembled,

with more than 750 grassroots makers and

disassembled, and reassembled as needed

nearly 800 students and young profession-

by grassroots makers; (2) maker toolkits or

als in STEAM fields (science, technology,

add-ons that are customizable per a given




community’s requirements to support what makers want to make; and (3) a mobile app for Android that amplifies makers’ capacity for making and trading through information sharing. Basic fabrication diagrams, instructions, and digital 3D models for the AMP Spacecraft are available on the website:


THE IMPACT Experienced together as a community center, a vocational school, a means to upward social mobility, and building trust and a curious object in an open-air manufactory, the Agbogbloshie Spacecraft prototype led to the design and fabrication of a sturdy, easily replicated (by roadside welders), modular and customizable kiosk — a familiar architecture typology in African cities and an affordable class of deployable architecture that empowers micro-entrepreneur-

01 The Spacecraft_ZKM made in Accra, Ghana for a final quality check-in before maritime transport to Germany.

ship. Material, such as pieces of iron rods, used for fabricating the Spacecraft can be gathered from scrap building materials. To

02 Spacecraft_KT, mobile makerspace customized for Kërthiossane, Dakar, Senegal.

date, makers have fabricated five modules

03 Spacecraft_AG, the first mobile makerspace prototype located at Agbogbloshie, Accra, Ghana.

different community needs/purposes (see

serving different functions and addressing



figures) and are developing a number of maker toolkits — including a solar-powered pollution sensor and a hydroponic system para-wall — and user-tested the AMP App. In all, the researchers conceive the AMP as an “open machine for making” for urban resilience and community empowerment.The project has received funding from the Rockefeller Foundation (2013 Centennial Innovation Challenge Award), Bazaar Strategy (2015), Shuttleworth Foundation (2016), Design Corps (2017 Social Economic and Environmental Design [SEED] Award), 2017 Seoul Biennale for Architecture and Urbanism (Invited Artists), and ZKM, Center for Art and Media, Karlsruhe, Germany (2018). AMP was named the “Digital Champion in Education Technology” at Africa 4 Tech (2016), the Pan-African startup competition, and received the Le Monde Urban Innovation Award – Citizen Engagement Award, Le Monde Cities (2020).


Co-Leads DK Osseo-Asare and Yasmine Abbas DK Osseo-Asare, Principal of Low Design Office (LowDO); Architectural League of New York 2021 Emerging Voices Award Winner; Assistant Professor of Architecture and Engineering Design, Humanitarian Materials Lab Director, Penn State. Yasmine Abbas, Assistant Teaching Professor of Architecture and Engineerin Design. She researches strategies for the design of living environments across contemporary conditions of expanded physical, digital, and mental mobilities.






Fall 2020

PROJECT NARRATIVE INTRODUCTION Bloom is a mental and emotional well-being application that takes users through the process of journaling. One of the signifying features of the application is the user experience. Users decide what they want to track or improve in their lives. With a combination of tools, they input data based on their daily behavior to get insightful patterns that will enable them to make positive changes for their mental health. Another important feature in Bloom are the guided prompts that users get while using the application. Depending on data that users input, Bloom gives recommendations and suggestions on things they can cultivate to improve their lifestyle and mental health. 01

“this will enable them to make positive changes for their mental health.” The onboarding experience is crafted such that users are eased into the habit of journaling. The interface is also designed to be minimal and simple, specifically to instigate a feeling of peace when users open the ap-



plication. The application also measures the amount of screen time that the user spends, as well as the number of social interactions that the person has.

01 Onboarding and prompt screens. 02 Calendars which keep track of your stats. 03 Dashboard with journaling preview.

THE IMPACT Users can input their mood and number of social interactions through the app, which then tracks and provides insights about behavioral patterns during extended periods of time. In this way, users slowly start becoming more mindful about their daily activities. It has been proven on many accounts how mindfulness and journaling help in mental clarity and health. Along with the use of sleep aids, the application is designed to help users maintain good sleep patterns.




Student Anjana Padmakumar, M.F.A. in Art, Graphic Design concentration, Penn State, 2021.







Mind Your Mask


PROJECT NARRATIVE THE CONTEXT The CDC has recommended wearing facemasks as a public health measure to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Additionally, the organization has affirmed that cloth face coverings are a critical tool in the fight against the virus that could reduce the spread of COVID-19, particularly when used broadly within communities. There is increasing evidence that cloth face coverings help prevent people who have COVID-19 from spreading the virus to others. “We are not defenseless against COVID-19. Cloth face coverings are one of the most powerful weapons we have to slow and stop the spread of the virus – particularly when used universally within a community setting. All Americans have a responsibility to protect themselves, their families, and their communities.” - CDC Director Dr. Robert R. Redfield 01

“The large text is legible at greater distances and communicates a hopeful feeling.”


Graphic designers have an opportunity to use their unique skillsets to create informative visuals that articulate how the public can slow

A closer look the spread of COVID-19. Perhaps the most effective canvas to promote and encourage healthier behavior is the mask itself. OUTCOMES AND IMPACT While many investigations into facemask design in light of the COVID-19 pandemic are focused primarily on function, there is also an opportunity to explore how form can encourage mask wearing among the public. Currently, textile design is experiencing something of a renaissance. This comes at a critical time as we investigate how patterns can communicate and express meaning in addition to being a beautiful artifact. Mind Your Mask uses the mask as a canvas. The illustration, texture, iconography, typography, and scale encourage social distance between wearer and viewer. Six feet is the recommended distance by the CDC. At an appropriate distance (greater than 6 feet) the visuals are a beautiful combination of vibrant colors, interesting patterns, and hopeful messaging. However, when a viewer breaks the social distance barrier (within 6 feet) the detailed iconography and subtext becomes clearly


Mind Your Mask

legible (high contrast sans-serif text and iconography that is smaller than .24” is generally illegible beyond 6 feet). The detailed iconography is much more ominous, and the subtext is more direct in its warnings to the viewer to encourage a viewer to back up and adhere to the rules outlined above. The ingenuity of Mind Your Mask is in the opportunity for users to wear textiles that, along with being a beautiful artifact, can also drive healthier public behavior and encourage proper social distancing among wearers and viewers. 01 prevent-getting-sick/social-distancing.html 02


Faculty Ryan Russell, Associate Professor of Graphic Design. Expertise in User Experience, Identity Design, Campaign Design




Written With Blood


PROJECT NARRATIVE THE PROJECT “Written with Blood” is a moving image series intended for exhibition in public spaces. It is an ongoing project that takes a critical perspective of historical and religious texts. Often depicted in these texts are scenes or implications of rape and rape culture, however, the tragedy behind these scenes is often overlooked in place of a lesson (often of punishment for women) or an origin story/creationism narrative. This project explores how historical texts, written from the male gaze, influence people’s percep01

tion of — and reaction to — the rape stories of today. Written with Blood focuses on the ongoing erasure of the woman’s voice from their own stories, and the expansion of that erasure through time. THE CONTEXT Written with Blood is a large series of moving posters. The posters appear to the viewer as still images, until a small portion of the women move. Whether it’s a quick blink, a tilt of the head, or a breath, the motion is shocking and captivating to 01 Depiction of Leda, raped by Zeus in the form of a swan.



02 Depiction of Medusa, raped by Poseidon in Athena’s temple.

the audience. The motion is minimal, but

accomplished exactly that. As a classicist,

crucial to the impact because it further ex-

Wilson is dedicated to maintaining the orig-

ploits the concept of bringing what it written

inal integrity of the text through translation

to life. The aim of this project is two-fold.

and poetry. In doing so, she subsequently

Primarily, it is meant to bring empathy and

exposed the problematic, and sexist, trans-

attention to women and their reflections

lations by other authors and poets. Written

on rape culture through opening up the

with Blood is intended to further expose

narrative for their voices. Additionally, it is

how Wilson’s discovery is not uncommon,

to acknowledge the influence of authorship,

and has been a perpetual influence on the

and thus our interpretation, of historical

writing and storytelling from historical texts

texts. Emily Wilson, a classicist, and her

to the journalism of today.

recent translation of the “Odyssey” has


Written With Blood

THE IMPACT Since this project is ongoing, the intention is to unmask a number of texts, building up from history to the women portrayed in the media of today. This is intended to further the correlation and presence of historical norms that continue to persist today. Overall, this project improves the community through exposure. It invites thoughts and conversations that are often ignored or kept in private, curated only to those who wish to read. Instead, the forum is public, and it challenges passerbys to stop and think.


Faculty Taylor Shipton, Assisstant Teaching Professor of Graphic Design






Fall 2020


PROJECT NARRATIVE In America, political polarization is at an

of either party hold towards each other. In

all-time high. In 2017, 95% of Republicans

2017, 45% of both parties held a “very unfa-

were more consistently conservative than

vorable” view of members of the opposing

the average Democrat. This is in stark

party. This is up from 16% in 1994 (Pew

contrast to the America of 1995, when only

Research Center).

64% of rRepublicans were more consistently conservative than the average Democrat.

How can our society move forward together

Likewise, 97% of Democrats in 2017 were

if almost half of the country holds highly

more consistently liberal than the aver-

unfavorable views towards each other

age Republican, as opposed to only 70%

purely based off party identification? It can’t.

of Democrats in 1994. Most importantly,

Something needs to be done about political

perhaps, are the attitudes that members

polarization in this country. However, this


project focuses solely on college-age students who are already interested in politics. Social media has a huge impact on polarization in America; however, in order to help solve the problem, research had to be done to determine just how much young people are being influenced by social media. After a series of interviews and surveys, it was determined that the majority of college-aged people referred to social media for their political news. However, only 5% of survey respondents said they actually discussed politics online; they were much more likely to discuss politics with close friends than people over the internet. It was consistenly expressed that people were turned off by the prevalence of political bots and trolls in social media discussions of politics.

“Social media has a huge impact on polarization in America.” Social media brings people together in virtually all other aspects of life, but not politics. Enter the idea for “Fireside.” The emphasis on video recordings alleviates many of the aforementioned issues by requiring a user’s face to be shown in

02 01 The onboarding process in Fireside allows users to input basic information in addition to their current political preferences. This allows the app to suggest content from users that challenge their viewpoints. 02 The home screen is a user’s home base. Users are able to access all the most relevant information in the blink of an eye. Based on location and the time of year, the most relevant election information will be displayed, as well as upcoming events from the app’s customized political calendar.



any video comment, reply, or post. It encourages face-to-face communication, with which people are usually much more comfortable, and discourages people from making a comment just to provoke a reaction. The anonymity associated with a typed comment is virtually eliminated. Also, it becomes impossible to create bots that sow political disinformation. More importantly, this app could hopefully connect peopl who aren’t of the same political parties. When people can talk face to face, many of the preconceptions and biases begin to fade away and we can

“truly see each other as people.” Once we can respect others, we can compromise and work together. This is the only way we can move America forward.


Student Connor Schwenk, B.Des. in Graphic Design. 2021. Designed in GD 301: Experience Design Process + Methods.




Covid Kit


PROJECT NARRATIVE As the pandemic struck and people were subjected to quarantine, man people were dealing with the adverse effects of loneliness. This kit explores ways to help alleviate the mental anxiety and isolation felt during self-quarantine using a variety of different mediums. Some of the components within the kit : STICKIES Sticky notes meant to communicate with others in a safe manner with quirky illustrations and positive messaging. 01

ACTIVITY IDEAS CARD Activities that can be done during a lockdown period are suggested on these card. Activities vary from meditating for 2 minutes to finding a playlist that soothes. GUIDED JOURNAL This journal was specifically designed to guide the users to start their journey


towards mindfulness by promoting them to pay attention to the things that they do on a daily basis. As the boundaries of time blur,

01 Data Visualisation, COVID-19 recovery rates of 49 countries. 02 Mock up of the kit’s outer packaging.


and work and home becomes infused into one, being present and listening to the

mind becomes more important. Divided into four sections, this journal crafts a journey for users to follow during a lockdown period. MOOD CALENDAR Using a combination of simple data visualization techniques, this is a calendar that documents the user’s moods throughout the lockdown period. By participating in this activity, the user is reminded to stay present and keep track of their thoughts. Aided by the research from cognitive behavioral therapy techniques, this activity helps users take the first step towards paying more attention to their thoughts to recognize harmful patterns and bring change to their emotional states. BLOOM Bloom is a self help application that allows users to document and journal their day-today activities. The COVID component in this application is used to allow people to form small groups of people they trust


Covid Kit

to keep each other accountable. With the option to create different groups and chat rooms, this component of the application helps people stay in touch and look out for each other. The touch points at different aspects of the unpackaging experience was specifically designed with the intention of creating


“a positive outlook within the user about the on-going social situation.” One example of this is the data visualization packaging component that exhibits the recovery rates of 49 countries affected by the virus. The illustration style, color usage, and language of copy were also specifically designed to create an approachable atmosphere to put users into a hopeful mental state.


03 Stickies, reminders, and notes component within kit. 04 The activity log card component within kit. Student Anjana Padmakumar, M.F.A, Graphic Design concentration, current student.






Delhi Metro


PROJECT NARRATIVE THE PROJECT The metro is a popular means of transportation in the city of Delhi. It is India’s largest and busiest rapid transit system serving Delhi and the nearby areas. However, the fear of COVID-19 has made travel a necessary evil within the city now. Even after certain restrictions were put into place, the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) hasn’t been able to stagger the passenger traffic 01

throughout the day. The increased ridership during peak hours is adding to the social distancing woes. It is also difficult to have people follow safety protocols at all times, such as sitting on alternate seats, maintaining 6 feet of distance, sanitizing their hands, or wearing masks properly. This has resulted in widespread fear and lack of public confidence in using the metro. THE PROJECT After the lockdown in Delhi was lifted, metro operations started again with various safety precautions put into place. However, even after strict guidelines laid out by the DMRC, the careless attitude of people by not taking the safety protocols seriously has

“The print solution aims to influence the user behaviour in making them follow rules.”


resulted in a lack of public confidence. This project proposes to upgrade the Delhi metro transit system through a dual solution campaign of digital and print messaging.

02 The digital solution aims to give commut-

The Delhi Metro App helps passengers

ers adequate information to plan their travel

track metro timings and monitor real-time

through a metro app. The real-time data

passenger traffic at metro stations and in-

showing the volume of passengers traveling

side trains. The app uses traffic light colors —

in a metro along with the station traffic will

red, yellow, and green — to communicate

allow commuters to make necessary travel

information regarding the level of the crowd


inside the station and on the train. One can easily add money to the metro wallet as


well without the need to physically validate

This user-friendly app will help to control

the transaction at the station. The app is

the spread of the coronavirus by staggering

synced with the Aarogya Setu, a mobile

the crowd in the stations throughout the day. The print solution aims to influence the user behavior in reminding them of the DMRC

01 Series of posters highlighting importance of wearing masks, social distancing, and hand sanitization.

guidelines. Regular reminders through seat stickers, train stickers, or wall posters will encourage riders to follow the rules. Posters having bold copy like along with stickers will

02 Seat stickers placed on alternate seats inside the metro and wall stickers that encourage social distancing.

influence the riders’ decisions.


Delhi Metro

application developed by the Government of India to fight COVID-19. This would help in tracking COVID-infected people in the public. Moreover, the app will generate a QR code for entry into the metro, thus eliminating the use of entry cards or tokens. The print solution includes series of posters and stickers enforcing social distancing, wearing of masks properly, and hand sanitization, placed strategically the inside of the station and on the trains. Other design innovations include alternate color-coded seats to ensure people don’t sit on adjacent seats, different gates for boarding and deboarding, and sanitizer facility in each metro compartment.


Train sticker to remind passengers to follow social distancing on the platform. Each figure on the train sticker is at a distance of 6 feet and is supplemented by floor stickers. Student Shatakshi Mehra, M.F.A., Graphic Design concentration, current student.



Hannah Spolidoro


Early Education

Spring 2019

Amanda Hoffman

PROJECT NARRATIVE In spring 2019, third-year architecture

ways: an early childhood education center

students were presented with the following

(daycare) was to be folded together with

task: to design an early childhood educa-

an after-school community center. Physical

tion and community center for the storied

spaces could be shared, yet use of the

North Philadelphia East neighborhood, a

spaces had to remain temporally separate.

working-class community directly north of

The proposed building was 37,530 square

Temple University’s main campus. The area

feet on a limited site area and the building

faces gentrification threats through the

code’s existing height restrictions meant

university’s ambitious expansion plans, yet

open spaces had to be creatively integrat-

continues to serve a diverse low-income

ed. Students were required to use wood

community. Students were asked to design

construction for their projects, introducing a

a building to serve the community in two

sustainable building material many had not


worked with before at this scale. Natural light and ventilation were a point of focus. Students were asked to consider additional sustainable design features as an experiential learning opportunity for children. As part of their site work, students were asked to consider transportation to the center to include public transportation, bicycles, and foot traffic. Students began by familiarizing themselves with the site, its history, and current cul-

Elena Chodkowski

tural and demographic makeup. The latter analysis helped students understand some of the issues faced by a disadvantaged community. They also familiarized themselves with Temple’s 2014 campus master plan in order to better understand the tensions between the local community’s spatial and social requirements and the university’s expansion and growth desires. Children have distinct needs, and a conceptual approach for a childcare center must be child-centered. Presentations by early childhood education experts provided background information for the class. To see the design problem through a child’s eyes, students began by exploring ideas of physical scale coupled with another aspect of space, form, or surface such as color, shape, form, material qualities, tactile surface qualities, or formal ordering systems. The focus on scale, coupled

Hannah Spolidoro


Early Education

with elements that are common in early

school-age children in the early childhood

childhood education, allowed students

education center stressed the importance

to explore child-appropriate concepts that

of continued support for elementary and

would seamlessly integrate visual and tactile

middle school children, spaces that would

stimuli. The program area took up much of

cater to after-school activities, and the

the available property once height limits

need for integrating real-life, green-build-

were considered,

ing practices into the lives of children from

“students had to creatively consider how green spaces and other outdoor spaces for play could best be integrated into their projects.” The relatively disadvantaged neighborhood context meant that play spaces were to be used by neighborhood children after school, and students were encouraged to consider how to manage the demands of a dual program (daycare and after-school community center). Americans with Disabilities Act requirements accompanied all design decisions and students took this aspect of the work very seriously. Although financial considerations, such as daycare tuition structures, were beyond the consideration of the design studio, students’ focus on community needs offered a blueprint for supporting disadvantaged neighborhoods. The integration of facilities for


an early age onwards.

Team Members | Abir Akand, Elena Chodkowski, Thomas Dimick, Sarah Felter, Caulen Heil, Akirah Hixon, Amanda Hoffman, Sean Rutala, Hannah Spolidoro, Kristin Soto, Danielle Vickers, Jacob Woods.






July 2018

PROJECT NARRATIVE THE PROJECT Affordable housing and sustainability are priorities for State College, Pennsylvania. GreenBuild, a university-based research project undertaken for the State College Community Land Trust (SCCLT), models opportunities for long-term housing affordability and provides a foundation for Energy+, a residential energy retrofit 01

initiative. Research conducted informs a process for community engagement and results in transferable knowledge leading to the development of affordable, sustainable housing for the region. COMMUNITY IMPROVEMENT The research is predicated on the hypothesis that creating great places, specifically housing, should be an iterative cycle where design innovation is informed by project evaluation and optimization and engagement. This feedback loop ensures “design for life” — research that is responsive to user needs and widely impactful for the community served. This university community partnership includes faculty and students from the Stuckeman School



Footnote 1 Design for Life mission statement, Request for Proposals.

Photograph of the completed GreenBuild duplex, income-qualified housing. working together with other disciplines at

and sustainable land development that is

Penn State, as well as with professionals

environmentally and socially beneficial.

and volunteers. Demonstrating the role

GreenBuild enhances the human expe-

that design plays in improving the quality of

rience by providing affordable, durable,

life, the human condition, and society are

healthy homes that contribute to environ-

central to this socially-focused and commu-

mental awareness and stewardship for

nity-engaged project. ¹

residents. It is especially compelling in that it demonstrates that comfortable, meaning-


ful, and sustainable living can be attainable

Highly visible, GreenBuild is located on a

regardless of income. The researchers

main thoroughfare connecting State Col-

continue to work with volunteers, housing

lege to the Penn State campus. Sidewalks,

providers, and decision-makers to apply

dedicated bike routes, and a bus stop locat-

lessons learned from GreenBuild to existing

ed on the project site connect residents to

regional affordable housing in State Col-

education, jobs, recreation, and community

lege. The resulting projects, which are an

amenities. The project is simultaneously

extension of this research, are a source of

reflective of the region’s historical context

community pride-in-place.

and projective of future regional housing



THE TRANSFORMATIONAL PEDAGOGY Hundreds of students, homeowners, community volunteers, and professionals comprise GreenBuild’s “educational footprint,” engaging participants in paramount issues of housing affordability and evaluation

Expanding on the goals of establishing affordable and sustainable homes, a core research component of Energy+ addresses race and socioeconomic barriers to affordable housing.

measures for low-energy, environmentally-responsible housing. Student and faculty research reports and design drawings serve as the basis for project implementation. This information, along with a booklet documenting the community design and input process, were generalized into downloadable guides to inform future projects. GreenBuild serves as an outward-facing classroom, with many student groups and professional organizations participating in tours, educational workshops, and celebratory events. Although new construction makes a visible impact in the community, existing housing has the greatest potential

01 GreenBuild site diagram.

for impacting more families and reducing

02 GreenBuild kitchen and living area. photography and virtual staging by Stephanie Girouard of

home energy burdens. GreenBuild researchers have partnered with the Borough, another university research entity, and an additional affordable housing provider to establish Energy+, a program to retrofit existing housing for energy efficiency and provide rental and home-ownership opportunities to income- qualified residents in State College.


Lisa D. Iulo, Founder, Energy Efficient Housing Research group (EEHR); Director, Hamer Center for Community Design. Scott Wing, Professor Emeritus, Penn State Department of Architecture. Chris Hazel, Research Technician, Energy Efficient Housing Research Group.





Hurricane Maria Recovery

Spring 2020


PROJECT NARRATIVE The “Barrio Venezuela” project empowers

been years in the making. This project

typically disenfranchised residents to

serves as a model for how other commu-

have their voices be influential during

nities can approach gaining trust to aid in

the post-Hurricane Maria recovery efforts.

ensuring that community values and desires

While devastation due to the hurricane has

are included in post-hurricane recovery

provided the catalyst and now finances for

plans currently underway in Puerto Rico.

repair and revitalization, the Barrio Venezuela in Río Piedras, San Juan, has been

The work on this project serves the people

disadvantaged for many years. Multiple nat-

of Barrio Venezuela. This community is

ural disasters (hurricanes and the COVID-19

deeply rooted and it is a tight-knit group

pandemic being most recent) have only exac-

of residents. This is largely due to social

erbated vulnerability and poverty that have

organizations like churches and the Sports


and Culture Association, which play an essential role in promoting activities to improve residents’ quality of life and create a sense of community. Through a series of community workshops, it was revealed that the most issues of concern stem from one primary issue: transportation, and the gradual landscape change that severed connectivity with other areas. The


residents’ main focus concentrated on rehabilitating existing vacant structures, the development of parking on vacant lots, and repaving pedestrian pathways. Additional workshops advanced more significant interventions, such as connectivity to the Río Piedras town center and a greenway that restored physical access to economic and social activities and enabled better public transportation options. It was demonstrated that a geodesign framework dramatically contributes to understanding local needs for change and stakeholders’ tolerance for change. Though designers may want to propose more far-reaching interventions, residents’


values and memories of their community provide realistic checks on this and relevant limits to these change proposals.The project’s design innovation is the use of the geodesign framework to provide

01 Mapping of the key infrastructure issues in the community 02 First workshop—residents mapping key issues in the community


Hurricane Maria Recovery

this community with the opportunity to

efforts. The geodesign framework is deci-

address their complex problems of decline

sion-driven, meaning the decision-makers

and devastation through keen awareness of

and community members are essential

local knowledge, recognition of community

voices throughout the process.

values, and understanding their priorities. All of this is facilitated by building trust and working with an interdisciplinary team in support of the local stakeholders. The geodesign framework uses six topics to guide the team to: Represent a place’s physical, ecological, economic, and social geographies and histories; understand a place’s functional and structural processes; evaluate these processes from the stakeholder’s pointof-view (values and priorities); propose change that responds to the above; consider the impact of the changes; and finally, to reach a consensus towards a shared vision of the future. The problem solved is how to recognize and bring forward the inherent community bonds and shared needs in a manner that will be useful to post-hurricane recovery efforts; in short, to ensure the community has meaningful involvement in their vision for the future. Too often there is not a deep understanding or trust in these types of


Team Members | Julio C. Verdejo-Ortiz ( Geodesign candidate), residents of Barrio Venezuela, Puerto Rico’s (UPR) CAUCE Center (Community Social Work professors and students), University of Puerto Rico School of Architecture Community Design Course.





Modular Housing

Fall 2016

PROJECT NARRATIVE The research develops ways of reusing waste corrugated cardboard as a resource for low-cost housing components. The work developed considers social and technical factors related to the target community and the material. The target community is formed by self-employed waste collectors working in the city of Asunción, Paraguay. The informal collection work is typical in Paraguay and the Latin American region 01

for different reasons, particularly poverty and deficient formal waste management systems. During the first decade of the 2000s, waste collectors in Latin America transitioned from

“transitioned from scavengers to selfemployed environmental entrepreneurs,” achieving a remarkable level of organization through cooperatives and associations. This research aims to support their work by offering a way to upcycle a material for which they receive very little money.

01 Cardboard panel frame assembbly.


Waste collector communities could use the

wood frame to produce the wall, floor, and

building parts they produce with cardboard

roof components. The designed housing

to build and/or improve their houses by tak-

layout and panels implement a combination

ing advantage of the material to which they

of digital-based tools, such as parametric

have free access or by selling the building

design and shape grammars. These tools

parts they produce to other people. The

help address the issues of waste cardboard

modular housing system’s design principles integrate off-site prefabri-

“Waste collectors’ communities could use the parts they produce to build their houses.”

cation, modular

size and thickness variability, and generate fabrication instructions for the use of waste collec-

and incremental construction, and existing

tors. On the other hand, the building parts

housing typologies from the target context.

fabrication and assembly rely on ana-

The building system consists of a panelized

log-based methods and tools, considering

construction made of cardboard and a ply-

resource-constrained environments.


Modular Housing

Julio Diarte, Ph.D. candidate in Architecture. Advisors Jose Duarte and Marcus Shafer






Musser Gap


PROJECT NARRATIVE ABSTRACT Penn State owns a 355-acre plot of land near the Musser Gap in State College, Pennsylvania, which encompasses agriculture, recreation, and forest resources. University President Eric Barron asked the Department of Landscape Architecture to undertake a review of the property: “Our vision for this area is to not only help protect the local water supply, plant, and animal species, but also make it a place where people can enjoy nature, learn about the environment, and be inspired.” Over three


semesters, the areas were assessed during two studio classes and several design scenarios for the property were developed as a result of the research. These scenarios reflected an interest in maintaining an agricultural heritage, but also in opening the site up for further recreation, as well as habitat for wildlife. These efforts were greatly aided by the participation of the Clearwater Conservancy in interfacing with the general public and senior Penn State administrators over several public meetings.

PROJECT The “Musser Gap to Valleylands (MG2V)” project was intended to serve both the Penn State and State College communities. The property connects State College with the forested Tussey Ridge, and then to Rothrock State Forest. The route was historically used by students to spend time in the forest and cut through agricultural lands to do so. These farms are still there and are both bi-centennial and centennial farms. As such,

“respect needed to be given to the heritage of the valley” while still trying to enhance public recreational use and wildlife habitat. The analysis, and subsequent community interactions, helped to greatly increase public awareness of the site, especially as suburban development encroaches immediately adjacent to the property. The fact that Penn State wanted to engage the public in such discussions is a reflection of the importance placed on town-gown relations. The open public review sessions of student work allowed for a variety of opinions to be expressed on how the site might ultimately be developed and increased public confidence in the MG2V assessment process.


Musser Gap

IMPACT Penn State used the final report to offer outto-bid a professional assessment of the site, but this process came to a standstill in March 2020 due to COVID-19. Nonetheless, when the project resumes, and regardless of the final assessment outcome, the site will continue to offer the public a variety of benefits, from aesthetic appreciation of the valley, to increased recreational access to and through the site to the Rothrock State Forest. The final design has not yet been decided, but the options developed by the students offer a variety of approaches to this valley setting and reflect, in large measure, the views of both Penn State and the surrounding community. The approach taken with this project provides the students, community, and Penn State administration a model of shared passion for a site and can (and should) be an approach to future endeavors.


Team Members | Charles Andy Cole, Ken Tamminga, Tom Yahner, Lisa DuRussel, Dan Meehan, Eliza Pennypacker, Deb Nardone, Sarah Rothman, Lucy Rummler, Clara Bichon, Eva Blankenhorn, Bruce Brucker, Adam Carter, Ben Chronister, Lacey Goldberg, Tim Gould, Rachel Levitt, Yao Ma, Anne McGraw, Paula Neder, Scott Parkhill, Olivia Shotyk, Logan Staley, Sean Sweeney, John Tiernan, Jeff Wertheim.





Sea Level Rise Resilience

August 2019

PROJECT NARRATIVE THE COMMUNITY AND THE PROBLEM Sea-level rise (SLR) poses an ongoing threat to neighborhoods of Common Fence Point and Island Park in Portsmouth Rhode Island. Intermittent flooding of roads due to astronomical high tides (“sunny day flooding”), septic system failures due to rising water tables, and marsh migration are already occurring. These effects of SLR create a nuisance to property owners and neighborhoods and may force abandonment of properties long before residences are inundated. Municipalities such as Portsmouth face the daunting task of prioritizing where to allocate limited adaptation resources and the stark reality that


providing services and access to all areas will become increasingly difficult as SLR progresses. Making policy, protocols, and incentives for retreat is politically difficult because the vulnerability of these neighborhoods is closely tied to a cherished way of life that is centered on the beach, fishing, and boating. The relative affordability of housing in these neighborhoods is also related to the lack of infrastructure that might mitigate some SLR impacts. The absence of sewers that would reduce the likelihood of septic failure, for instance, limits the size of dwellings, serving as a brake on price inflation. There is, thus, opposition to

implementing some forms of infrastructure improvement as residents fear that this will increase the desirability of property and spur gentrification. Therefore, addressing these complex situations required careful and earnest engagement by stakeholders holding contrasting points of view. THE INNOVATION This project employed innovative SLR visualizations that depict impacts such as road obstruction and marsh migration that will occur at modest levels of SLR to engage stakeholders. These visualizations make projected impacts more relevant to people’s day-to-day concerns and allow diverse stakeholders to relate projected impacts to current environmental signals of risk, such as beach closures brought about by the effects of failing septic systems. These signals make it difficult to ignore the need for action, or to dismiss projections as being unlikely. Depictions of extreme storm 01

events were presented separately so as not to undermine perceptions of risk related to the inevitable and ongoing impacts of SLR. This contrasts conventional approaches that depict inundation from SLR combined with inundation from extreme storms.

01 83

Sea Level Rise Resilience

THE OUTCOME This work was conducted in parallel with ongoing work by the Rhode Island Coastal Resources Center, The Nature Conservancy, and the Rhode Island State Infrastructure Bank. Visualizations served as catalysts for community conversation and were the basis for a community survey. This work contributed to actionable policy proposals on the part of town planners such as elevating a major thoroughfare (Park Avenue). Visualizations were incorporated into the town’s proposals to fund engineering studies for this work. New work is now underway in adjacent communities. Academic research on the use of these visualizations is a foundation for subsequent research into the effectiveness of alternative SLR visualizations at Penn State.

01 Semi-realistic visualizations depicting impacts of Hurricane Carol (1954) at current sea levels and buildout. This visualization demonstrates the overwhelming impact of a Category 3 storm in this site. They were used separately from the SLR visualizations. Visualization based on ADvanced CIRCulation Model (ADCIRC).

Team Members | Peter Stempel (Penn State), Pam Rubinoff (University of Rhode Island), Austin Becker (University of Rhode Island), Scheri Fultineer (Rhode Island School of Design), Isaac Ginis Lab (University of Rhode Island) Students | Oliver Chene , Wen-Yu Du , Andy Hojoa, Michele Katora , Stefan Korfmacher, Serafi ma Kovalevskaya, Lina Lopez, David Lu, Malery Nguyen, Rashmi Ravishankar, Isabel Scanlon, Peter Shanahan, Alexa Thorne, Aadit Todi Conducted in collaboration with the University of Rhode Island Coastal Resources Center and University of Rhode Island Graduate School of Oceanography.




Sydney Yakowenko


Activist Architecture

Spring 2021

PROJECT NARRATIVE THE PROJECT In this semester-long design studio, students were introduced to designing architecture to address social issues. The studio taught students how to identify social equity issues, how to research underlying issues, and most importantly, how to develop a concept for a built-environment intervention that could realistically help to


“make a difference in the lives of the people affected.” Although the projects remained unbuilt, students worked with outside experts (leaders of agencies, government programs, advocacy groups, or other stakeholders) to develop their projects. Students also researched how such projects might be financed. THE CONTEXT Students began by researching a current equity problem. Examples included urban food deserts, lack of adequate housing, lack of access to healthcare, stressors that affect mental health, and inadequate transportation options. Students developed a stakeholder diagram to identify the relationship between stakeholders and their role

Abby Henderson


Noah Schmitt

in the issue studied. Students also found

for underserved user groups, and socially

and met with topical experts, for example

accessible spaces of respite and wellness.

directors of a food pantry program, agency

Some of these spaces were designed to

representatives of the Remote Area Medical

serve as catalyst spaces that spark aware-

program, mental health experts, or the di-

ness and dialog

rector of a homeless shelter. These experts out the studio experience.

“through championing a more resilient future.”


The studio sparked many discussions about

Each student designed a building type (in

the role that design can play in shaping our

some cases developing a new typology)

everyday lives. Many students continued

that addressed the problem in some way.

exploring their topics in subsequent work.

continued to advise the students through-

Examples included a new type of food distribution network, new housing types


Activist Architecture

Abby Henderson

Danica Williams

Team Members | Leah Balderson, Abby Henderson, Noah Schmitt, Danica Williams, Sydney Yakowenko


Sydney Yakowenko