Friday, August 31, 2012

Senior Capstone Project

Here it is, I've finished college. Once I've completed all graduation requirements (I've got one left, at least), I'll soon have my BFA diploma in hand. I'll have graduated cum laude from the Savannah College of Art & Design's Interior Design program, which currently is ranked #1 in the nation for its graduate and undergraduate programs by DesignIntelligence. Kind of makes me a smart cookie, but I'm not alone - at least a quarter of my other classmates are also cum laude or higher. We're all smart cookies here.

So, now I have time on my hands to share things that I've learned, and also to begin sharing things that interest me about interior design, biophilic design, sustainability, art history, and related areas of interest (like archaeology, or physics - I'm a bit nerdy).

What I'd like to share first is my Senior Capstone Project. It's a bit like a thesis for most other undergraduate programs, in that it's a summation of what you've learned as applied through your particular lens of interest, but different in that it's not just a paper you're writing, but also a model of a design you're creating where you know every detail of the project and exactly why you make the choices you make. Every detail, down to the last brick. Ask me anything about this project and I guarantee I'll have an answer.

I created what I call the Chrysalis Shelter for Women and Children. It's biophilic transitional housing for survivors of domestic abuse. I was jokingly asked last night where the shelter is for men - my answer is, I haven't made it yet. I also don't want to make light of the plight of abused men, because it does happen, and it's a pretty serious problem, but the statistics for women and children are staggering. It is an epidemic. One in four women will be affected by domestic abuse. The rates of homicides linked to domestic abuse are horrific. In one year alone, Georgia rose from being 10th in the nation for the highest rates of male-instigated homicide of women in domestic abuse situations, to being 6th.

In the 2011 from the National Network to End Domestic Violence, Georgia had nearly 2000 victims served in one day. In the same survey, 243 requests were unmet due to factors such as a shortage of staff, shortage of funding, not enough transportation, and so on. 67% of those unmet needs were for housing. That's in just one day. Multiply that by 365, and that's for one year in one state. Look at all the reports from every state. If that doesn't absolutely floor you, if that doesn't move you, I don't know what would.

I'd already been moved before I knew the statistics; it made me want to cry, to fight, to do something afterward. Therefore, I devoted the next 20+ weeks of my life to working on this project, even if it didn't provide any immediate benefit to the women and children the project was intended for - if it just helps create awareness, then I've done something. Perhaps one day I can do more.

Perspectives from the project, created in Revit 2012 and manipulated in Photoshop 5:

Seedling Room-final
Seedling Room

North Residential Hallway-final
North Residential Hallway

Living Lounge-final
Living Lounge


Kids Play-final
Kids Play

Classroom - final

This is the book I created: Chrysalis Shelter for Women and Children
These are the presentation boards for the project: Chrysalis presentation boards

The boards and book were both created in Adobe InDesign 6. So, a lot of programs were used for the project, everything from MS Word to Adobe products to Autodesk products.  But I believe I also owe a debt of gratitude to Edward O. Wilson and Stephen Kellert, who wrote about biophilia and biophilic design: I've never met them, but their work inspired me and this project. My work from now on will hopefully build on this.