Student Theses | Chatham University, Pittsburgh, PA

Chatham University

Student Research & Theses

Chatham University M.S. in Interior Architecture

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Look at what our current students are doing.

Amanda M. Blake

Taking the Lead on Sensory Rooms: The Importance of Design in Modifying Behaviors Related to Sensory Modulation Disorder

This thesis investigates the connection between architecture/design and occupational therapy in relation to sensory rooms. The purpose of this study is to promote the collaboration of disciplines to strengthen sensory rooms as part of a sensory diet for students with sensory modulation disorder. Architects and designers should take the lead of this design to achieve a greater universal design which encompasses sensory modulation disorder and other developmental disorders. This report provides examples of case studies and analysis of various texts which governs design principles from each respected discipline on the subject of sensory rooms and Interviews of Designers, Occupational Therapists and Teachers on sensory room design. Recommendations would include additional studies on the occupants of the rooms after collaboration in comparison to those that were not lead by architects/designers.

Megan M. Carleton

Design Features that Support the Learning Environment in Creative and Performing Arts Classrooms

The purpose of this study was to research the design elements of lighting, acoustics, space planning, and flexibility to see how they impact creative and performing arts classrooms, and then to create a set of design guidelines to be used to help create them. Currently there are many limitations and gaps in design research related to creative and performing arts high schools. Also, there are few valid case studies on the topic of the built environment in relation to student achievement, especially concerning these specialized education facilities. Secondary research was conducted relating to the topics of lighting, acoustics, space planning, and flexibility, as well as magnet and high school design for the study. The information gathered was then used to create a set of design guidelines for the lighting, space planning, and flexibility of creative and performing arts high schools. The findings of the study indicate that lighting, acoustics, space planning, and flexibility can affect students learning and achievement. The study shows that there are many gaps in research on the topic of creative and performing arts magnets, particularly with regards to the planning and design of their facilities. Very little contemporary research has been done concerning the lighting, acoustics, space planning, and flexibility of creative and performing arts classrooms and what specific elements affect them the most. As far as modern design guidelines on these facilities, the few that have been published are very vague and non specific. More research on lighting, acoustics, space planning, and flexibility in creative and performing arts magnet facilities is needed. Most of the preliminary research gathered was based on traditional high school art facilities, but not necessarily arts magnet high school facilities. Since creative and performing arts magnet schools provide a concentration of study in the arts, it would behoove researchers to study these facilities specifically.

Carrie Czar

Preservation of a Country Farm

Pennsylvania is one of the most well known states for agriculture. Since World War II, agriculture has become less attractive as an occupation. Unfortunately, because of the increasing costs of labor and equipment, it is a struggle for small active farms to even be profitable. Today's farmers are forced to financially justify their existence with rapid city growth and property price inflation. Farmers are in a difficult position - their land is worth more if they sell it to a suburban developer than if it is kept as an active farm. However, communities are realizing that destroying farmlands lead to sprawl and urbanization. This manuscript studies the history and preservation from the effects of urban sprawl, of one family-owned farm, the Bernd farm, located in Fombell, Pennsylvania.

Contemporary life has had a significant impact on rural areas such as Fombell. Urban sprawl, the unplanned and uncontrolled spreading of urban development into areas adjoining the edge of a city, has obliterated many family-owned farms. Many areas south of Fombell have suffered the impact of urban sprawl. Such impacts include housing divisions which are large tracts of land consisting entirely of newly-built residences. These housing plans are often called towns, villages, or neighborhoods which is very misleading since these terms denote places which are not exclusively residential. Housing sub-divisions create a negative impact by reducing farmland for residential property creating problems such as traffic issues and higher taxes. As a result of more population, residential growth compounds with the construction of shopping centers and fast food restaurants. Often these buildings conform to the companies' particular image, which can appear out of place in a rural area and often become aesthetically unpleasing. Inevitably, all of these impacts force wildlife out of their natural surroundings to survive in an environment not fit for them, a result when sprawl interrupts the natural habitat. Fombell, Pennsylvania is located thirty miles north of downtown Pittsburgh.

Although Fombell has not yet fallen victim to the urban sprawl that has taken place in other regions nearby, it is still very much at risk. Most of the farms in Fombell have been passed down from generation to generation over the past one hundred years. The farms in Fombell have gone through many different natural disasters, unavoidable catastrophes, and sudden looses. Whether the catastrophes are floods, fires, or family deaths, the farmers always unite together and lend a helping hand any day, any time, and any hour.

This legacy of rural life in Fombell needs to be preserved or it will be destroyed by urban sprawl. By documenting the restoration process and outlining the findings of the single building research study of one farmstead property in Fombell, Pennsylvania, awareness will be given to the general public and communities that are endangered of rural extinction by urban sprawl.

Magdalena Sanchez-Dahl

Color Education for Interior Designers: Is Josef Albers in the Curriculum?

The purpose of this study is to determine 1) the importance of color education and 2) the extent of Josef Albers teachings, in interior design programs across the U.S. Albers focused his work in the instability and relativity of color (Dorosz & Watson, 2011). According to Albers, even within an unstable idea of color, effects can be predicted and controlled (Holtzschue, 2002). Are interior design students being trained to predict and control color effects through Albers teachings? Via an on-line survey, the study reached 19 color education professors in CIDA accredited interior design programs. Findings revealed that 1) Color class scored the lowest in terms of importance compared with other interior design courses. 2) The survey indicated that 68% of participants incorporated Albers teachings in their course, however only 45% used color-aid paper as working material. 3) Fifty three percent of color classes were combined with other important subjects, leaving limited time to establish a thorough understanding of color.

Christina Gonano

Assisted Living Design and Activities Programming that Encourage Family Involvement

The purpose of this study was to determine where family visits take place and which design features and activities encourage family involvement in assisted living facilities. Family involvement is a philosophical goal of assisted living and is linked with physical and psychological well-being. Yet, few researchers have examined design and activities in the context of family visits.

Residents and family members from three different assisted living facilities participated in the study. The participants filled out questionnaires that asked them how often they used different areas in the facility for family visits. The questionnaire also asked participants to explain why they used their highest rated areas and to identify activities they participated in in those areas. In addition, they were asked to explain why they did not use certain areas as often and to list any areas or activities that they would like to see in these facilities. Analyses revealed similarities and differences between groups with respect to space usage. Both older adults and family members indicated the apartment was the most frequently used space for family visits. In contrast, residents ranked the dining room and den high while family members ranked outdoor areas and the living room high. The laundry room, library, and activity room were used much less frequently for visits by both groups. The study revealed that privacy is an important reason why certain spaces are used or not used. Outdoor areas are desirable but sufficient protection from the elements is needed on a small scale. In addition, both groups of participants desired physical therapy or exercise rooms and more opportunities for outdoor activities and exercise. Family members also noted the need for computer rooms, a deli or café, and a convenience store. Based on the findings, several recommendations are provided for both design and activities programming.

Julie A. Graf

Promoting Sustainability Education: Documenting a Proposed Curricular Unity on the Principles of Sustainability

Despite global warming claims, environmental, economic, and social issues are threatening the well-being of humanity. Learning sustainable practices can help the population become better prepared to improve their expected quality of life. Amid the myriad of claims, certifications, and ever changing technology, individuals of any age and education level may not recognize truly sustainable practices unless they are educated in sustainable principles and theories. Although many educational institutions and multiple industry organizations are striving to educate the population, there remains no mandated, comprehensive sustainability education that reaches the entire public. However, educating the population may be readily achieved through a sustainability curriculum in the public school sector that combines sustainability principles and theories with stewardship. As a graduation requirement, the Department of Education could mandate sustainability service-learning projects that engage students with their communities; whereby, a vast majority of the population is educated at once. A sustainability learning project was spearheaded to educate high school students on the basic principles and theories of sustainable development. This education project serves to highlight sustainable principles as a precursor to integrated sustainable education. The unit aims to equip students with an understanding of the principles and theories that define sustainable practices and inspires them to think globally and, in the process, engages students as environmental stewards to their community utilizing the service-learning model. The absence of recycling initiatives in rural, Western Pennsylvania was the motivation for the project. In this case study, the school building was utilized as a teaching tool where students conducted a waste audit, energy audit, and informal LEED© assessment. Students also formed a Green Task Force to implement sustainable initiatives, including hosting a recycling competition between area schools. A Sustainability Fair was held as a capstone event to further engage the community.

Heather L. Haines

Wood Products in Residential Construction: An Investigation into Product Sustainability and Product Demand

Wood is one of the most fundamental construction materials. There are issues of environmental consciousness such as deforestation, indoor air quality (volatile organic compounds), and global warming (climate change), attached to cutting down trees but few materials are better suited for many aspects of home construction and design. Sustainability means meeting the needs of the present population without diminishing the ability of future populations to meet their own needs (Bruntland, 1987). Sustainable forestry provides a way for trees and non-timber forest products to meet peoples ever increasing need for lumber (Rainforest Alliance, 2008). The purpose of this research is to identify the perceived factors effecting consumer decision making when purchasing sustainable wood products for the home. In addition, it will identify Metropolitan Pittsburgh’s role in the Forest Stewardship Council and how that affects the residential housing industry in this area. At the conclusion of this research the building and design industries involved with building in Metropolitan Pittsburgh will gain a better understanding of the effects of irresponsibly removing trees from the forest and also the negative effects of the chemicals used to make the wood products durable as well as aesthetically pleasing. Two surveys were created. The builder survey was created to understand the demand of FSC certified wood in residential applications. A second survey was created for suppliers to determine whether millwork manufacturers are purchasing sustainable wood products and why. The second survey was also created to evaluate the perceived factors preventing or pushing manufacturers into buying green products. This research concluded that LEED plays a major role in the increase in quotes specifying sustainable products including FSC certified wood. Conflicting data was collected regarding product education. Suppliers stated they are educating all of their consumers [builders] while only half of the builder respondents have been receiving information from sales representatives and another half of that group only receiving information via e-mail and mail. A final conclusion is that more research needs to be done with a larger population size of both suppliers and home builders.

Stephanie A. Heher

Design Trends: Destination Supermarkets

Conventional supermarket retailers determined to not only survive but to succeed in today’s competitive market are spending considerable amounts of money to create exciting store atmospheres and enticing destinations that boost customer satisfaction and loyalty. The purpose of this study was to research and analyze the effectiveness of the design elements and features often used or employed by traditional grocery retailers to create destination-shopping environments. An abundance of research exists relating to consumer behavior and the creation of retail environments in general; however, little academic research exists relating to grocery retail and specifically the conventional supermarket setting.

Empirical research was conducted through two survey instruments. One survey was geared to architects and designers experienced in creating destination-shopping environments for the grocery retail industry and the other survey instrument was directed to consumers, i.e. those individuals who have an opportunity to shop in destination-shopping environments in the grocery retail industry.

The results of the study suggest that the design elements and features used to create exciting, enticing, and educational destination-shopping environments are often noticed, yet the factors that make consumers loyal to a specific grocery retailer and/or store location often lie outside the realm of store design.

Because supermarket design is a tremendously complex and costly proposition, further research on design trends and the specifics with regard to the elements and features that impact consumer behavior should be studied. This study lays the foundation for further research that could provide insight into destination-shopping environments or other trends in the grocery retail industry.

Megan Mae Homison

Smart Growth Communities: How Effective are they to Reducing Carbon Footprint Related Directly to Transportation?

Sustainability is extremely important in order to protect the environment and sustainable design has been a popular trend of suburban living in the 21st century. Smart growth is a sustainable approach to greener cities, which could limit our resource usage. One of the design elements of a smart growth community is to decrease an individual’s carbon footprint by means of transportation such as walking, biking, or use of public transportation. Carbon footprint is comprised of several different factors but transportation is a large component and today there are nearly as many automobiles as there are people in the U.S. Today, urban sprawl has become overwhelming and smart growth communities are creating an outlet for individuals to live in the suburbs but have the convenience of amenities within walking distance. Smart growth communities can reduce an individual’s carbon footprint because they include the development of mixed use amenities in one convenient location. There are several successful smart growth communities located in the U.S. These communities present a great example of the success a smart growth community can impose. The purpose of this study was to examine the efficacy of two small-scale smart growth communities in Pittsburgh, PA based on the usage of amenities; transportation used, and average distance of travel. The participants at each location answered several questions that were multiple choice and fill in the blank. The results demonstrated that most of the residents, in both locations, drive more miles than expected for residents that live in a smart growth community.

Zeinab M. Hussein

The Third Place: Making the Case for the Informal Public Life and the Great Good Places Essential

The goal of this study is to understand the importance of creating third places, and to know their benefits to the community. This study also examines how the interiors of those spaces are a main factor of successful third places. To accomplish this, the study will analyze, and compare 60 of the world's greatest places using Ray Oldenburg's eight criteria for creating great, good places. From the findings, it is then concluded that Oldenburg's eight criteria are not the only factors of great, good places. People's needs have evolved and the reliance on convenience has increased. People nowadays need diverse places that offer different activities that can bring them closer together. It is also concluded that interior architecture has a major effect on the success of a third place. The design of the space's interior is a main factor of the ambiance created, and it is what separates a successful and attractive place from another that isn't.

Nile Adrian Johnson

The Impact NCIDQ Certification has on the Effectiveness of an Interior Design Educator

In my investigation of various positions posting for design educators, the common denominator of most of these postings for educators is the preferred or mandatory requirement for NCIDQ (National Council for Interior Design Qualification) certification. NCIDQ certification has been put in place to identify those individuals who are uniquely qualified through education, experience and examination to competently practice interior design. Is this the only indicator of a practitioner's competency? Are there other qualifiers in which one can be considered a competent and experienced practitioner, and therefore qualified to be an effective interior design educator? If the role of the interior design educator is aligned with the needs of today's student population, academic learning objectives and outcomes, and demonstrates the knowledge and skills necessary to teach effectively, why are hiring practices largely impacted by NCIDQ certification? By establishing the qualities of a successful and effective design educator, I hope to discover and share new and innovative ideas that program directors and accrediting bodies can incorporate in their hiring practices and evaluation processes.

Lisa A. Kamphaus

Review of Policies and Procedures for Incorporating Sustainable Design on University and College Campuses

College and university campuses are like small neighborhoods and experience the same problems, complexities, and environmental issues. By greening their existing portfolios, colleges and universities are uniquely poised to have a powerful impact on the built environment and future generations. The purpose of this study was to examine the extent of sustainable construction practices that colleges and universities are engaged in. The process that colleges and universities use to incorporate sustainable design practices into their construction projects, the rating systems utilized, the number and types of buildings being planned and constructed, the strategies that were eliminated or deemed unsuccessful, and the financial and environmental impacts of incorporating sustainable practices were investigated. Empirical research was conducted with the aid of the on-line survey software, Qualtrics. Colleges and universities listed in the Sierra Magazines 2009 annual Cool Schools list were invited to participate. The questionnaire was divided into several sections that included a combination of open-ended and closed questions requesting information on the following: general information in regards to location of campus, size of campus, age of campus and United States region of campus; (ii) information on sustainable design and construction projects being planned on campus; (iii) information on sustainable design and construction projects that have been completed on campus; (iv) information on updating existing buildings on campus with sustainable design and construction strategies; and (v) information on cost analysis, health and productivity of occupants, and actual strategies used and/or eliminated. The study results suggest that some colleges and universities are highly committed to sustainable design and construction projects while others are just beginning their involvement. The results also suggest that the majority of the buildings being planned, completed, or updated with sustainable strategies are predominately used by students. Results further indicate that most people believe that there is no difference in cost, health, or productivity between standard buildings and green buildings. Post occupancy studies are minimal, leaving a gap between perception and knowledge. With little to no past research regarding the policies and procedures that college and university campuses are utilizing for sustainable design and construction projects further study is necessary. This study lays the foundation for further research that could aid other campuses interested in starting this process.

Suzanne M. Kile

Adapting the Workplace for Generation Y

Generation Y members studying or practicing in business-related fields were surveyed to understand their physical workplace preferences. The first portion of the survey was designed to collect general demographic information along with the rating of favored workplace considerations and amenities. The second portion of the survey asked the participants to rate their preference of 12 Personal Workspace images and 12 Conference/Meeting images. The participants were then asked to select and comment on their most and least preferred images. The survey images were selected to represent categories ranging from traditional layouts to contemporary layouts. The survey was hosted through Survey Monkey and open for a two week period. A total of 79 surveys met the requirements for evaluation. The survey results concluded that the Generation Y participants rated the traditional images higher for both Personal Workspaces and Conference/Meeting Areas. The most favorable characteristics of these images were spacious layouts, privacy, aesthetics, and comfort.

Michelle L. Kirkpatrick

Design Challenges and Solutions Pertaining to the Adaptive Reuse of Historic Buildings

This paper critically analyzes published information on adaptive reuse in reference books and periodicals through a content analysis. Particular attention was recorded pertaining to the challenges associated with adaptively reusing old commercial and residential buildings into new uses. The study analyzes and evaluates nine categories of challenges, which occurred most often in residential and commercial adaptive reuse projects and explores any possible similarities among them. The nine categories identified were: sustainability, space planning, structural, mechanical, maintaining historical integrity, codes/ADA, zoning, urban development and other (acoustics, lighting, etc). Of the 39 buildings researched from a randomly selected sample, a total of 93 challenges were recorded. Of these, 43 challenges were found to be associated with commercial buildings and 50 challenges were found to be associated with residential buildings. In comparing the occurrences of the top challenges between commercial and residential projects from the sample, the study revealed there are similar occurrences among the top three challenges in each group. The most occurring challenge in each project type was associated with space planning. The study concludes the residential and commercial buildings reused for new uses had unexpected similar major challenges in their transformations. In addition, the study intended to evaluate which type of project seems to be more difficult. When the challenges were compared for the entire population, an analysis using confidence intervals revealed that the challenges between the building types cannot be considered statistically different. The study acknowledges the idea that while all buildings may not be same structurally, historically and spatially, common ideas can be utilized to successfully retain old buildings. It would be advantageous within the design community to be mindful of the specific challenges associated with each type of project and be prepared to address similar issues during their design process. By understanding one of historic preservation’s treatment plans, adaptive reuse, as a viable and valuable design approach, many of the cultural and historic resources will continue to tell their story in every community.

Janet Yester Klosky

Product Assessment for Sustainability: A Framework for Sustainable Products with a Focus on Interior Resilient Flooring

Information on sustainable philosophies, life cycle assessment, testing and certification programs are the basis for this study to develop an interior design framework for selecting sustainable resilient flooring. The purpose of the framework is to provide interior design practitioners with a simple, flexible and easy-to-use tool for identifying sustainable interior resilient flooring. The product assessment for sustainability (PAS) was designed as a framework based on life cycle assessment (LCA) to include manufacturing contributions and impacts on human health and the environment. PAS was designed to be an evolving tool that is readily changeable. As sustainable approaches become the norm and more information becomes available, PAS evaluation criteria will also develop and change.

Kirstin Labita

Does building information modeling impact architects' creative processes?

The rules-based, generative process of building information modeling, or BIM, is in direct contrast to the intuitive, iterative creative process of interior designers and architects. A typical design is slowly evolved, beginning with multiple solutions during the concept phase and finally reaching definition and a single solution during the construction documentation phase. BIM requires specific decisions earlier in the project cycle than the typical creative process and may not allow interior designers and architects to fully realize their design. Making decisions early in order to create a BIM model also presents an almost "finished" look as a 3-dimensional model, which might prematurely end the creative process. The aim of this study is to understand how the creative process of interior designers and architects is impacted by building information modeling, either positively or negatively.

Esther Looker

Can historic buildings renovated according to "the Standards" meet the "LBC" sustainability requirements?

Historic preservation advocates have long made the argument that preservation and reuse are inherently sustainable; however, as green building technology improves and the metrics for measuring sustainability advances, can historic buildings compete with new construction? This thesis examines the feasibility of deep green renovations on historic buildings. Specifically, it poses the question: Can historic buildings, renovated in accordance with the United States Secretary of the Interior's Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties ("the Standards"), meet the certification requirements of the Living Building Challenge ("LBC")? This study begins with a literature review to establish baseline understanding of environmental challenges, green building, and historic preservation. This is followed by a theoretical exploration of the compatibility of the Standards and the LBC. This study concludes with a brief discussion of a historic home in Ann Arbor, Michigan that is Net Zero Energy Certified under the LBC. Findings indicate an unquestionable necessity for collaboration and, in some cases, compromise. While this theoretical exploration cannot reach a definitive "yes" or "no" conclusion, it does encourage dialogue between preservationists and green building advocates who are in search of mutually beneficial solutions.

Windy J. Neff

A Comparison of Traditional and Online Student Preparedness upon Graduating from an Interior Design Program

Interior design intern employers were surveyed to see if there is a difference between traditional and online education within an examined institution. The offered a Bachelor of Science degree through the two different means. Interviews with two established designers, which had a professional relationship with the researcher and familiarity with supervising student interns, helped to formulate the researchers questionnaire. The survey was designed to be anonymous and the majority of the questions were close ended. Fifty-nine employers successfully received a web-based survey ( There were a total of 27 questionnaires returned, giving the researcher a 46% return rate. The survey was divided into seven different categories: general descriptive questions; organization skills and time management; professionalism; motivation and personality; communication skills; technical skills and quality of work; and writing skills. The researcher compared employer responses based on seven different categories and can state with a 95% confidence level that there was little difference between the students preparedness in the traditional or online programs.

Kiran Pokhrel

Housing for the Elderly in Nepal

People are living longer due to improved health care, nutrition, and medicine. The population of elderly people in both developing and developed countries is increasing, albeit at different rates. An increasing number of old aged people have created more demand for various housing options for the elderly. In developing countries various socio-economic factors are changing the family composition from joint families to nuclear families. More and more young people are migrating to developed countries, and older people are left behind to take care of themselves. This has created a new need for housing options for the elderly in these countries. This study illustrates a housing option for the elderly in the developing countries, with a specific design example for Nepal.

Samantha Sadock

Assessing Pittsburgh’s Theaters

The purpose of this study was to assess the design characteristics of the theaters of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. More specifically, the study looked at the theaters in the city's Cultural District and those considered to be in the city but not directly in the downtown area. It was intended that this evaluation would provide insight into how diverse Pittsburgh's Theaters are. Additionally, the study included an assessment of the attributes that attract patrons to the theater. With the collected information, it was anticipated to reveal the strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities for growth and improvement of Pittsburgh's theaters. To conduct this study, a content analysis was used to assess each venue. There were originally eighteen venues in total, which became fourteen after four were eliminated as they did not fit the profile of theater venues being theaters in the Pittsburgh Cultural District, and six in the surrounding vicinity. The survey looked at style, purpose, and age in addition to an area assessment including design programming characteristics. By comparing the features of these theaters, it was found that the theaters of the Pittsburgh Cultural District have more to offer patrons, such as accessible parking, dining, and a historical benefit. It was also discovered that throughout the city, a proscenium style stage was predominant. Theaters found in the cultural district had a greater seating capacity than those in the surrounding vicinity, yet the smaller venues were considered to have adaptable stages that can transform between proscenium and thrust stages.

Karen M. Scarton

Cookie-cutter Houses: Homeowner's Purchasing Decision

The purpose of this research was to study the home buying trends of the American single-family and what factors influence these trends today. It specifically examined factors that influenced homeowners to purchase houses in two developments consisting of large, prefabricated, cookie-cutter style homes in western Pennsylvania.

This research will be valuable to the real estate market and also new home builders. The objective was to further understand what is most important to consumers and help predict home design and buying trends for today and the future. A change in buying trends that gravitates more towards interior aspects of a home may also entice builders to hire the services of an interior designer and see them as more of an asset and essential to their team.

Roxann A. O'Rourke-Sherrodd

Critical Thinking: Development in Interior Design Studio Environments

Critical thinking is identified as a vital skill for interior designers by the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (CIDA) as well as universities and colleges across the nation. The purpose of this study was to explore the development of critical thinking in interior design students within a studio setting using the W.G. Perry (1968) scheme of intellectual development as a model. This model describes how college level students' progress in their knowledge of contextual understanding. By using both qualitative and quantitative research methodologies the presented findings involved three studio classes of intermediate level interior design students by investigating the relationship between teaching approach and students' development of advanced design solutions. The study was designed to support the effective determination of the five levels found in critical thinking: dualistic, multiplistic, procedural knowledge, constructed knowledge, and continued knowledge. With end results giving an analysis to the evaluation instruments effectiveness, the development of critical thinking skills of interior design students while in a studio classroom setting, and the implications for teaching styles and methods used in the development and perception of critical thinking. Keywords: critical thinking, development, interior design, learning style, teaching style.

Amanda Shumar

Think Universal Design for the Individual: Accessible Kitchen Design

In the kitchen field, universal design has shown significant growth over the past several years. This incorporates environments intended for use by as many people as possible, regardless of age, resources or abilities. This study evaluates an individual’s experiences in planning for a universally designed home. Both client and designer were interviewed to gain their insight on different phases of the process and how they adhered to the seven principles of universal design. Design considerations were addressed in the early stages of implementation to satisfy the clients specific wants and needs. After conducting the interviews, results revealed areas of challenge that produced solutions. The research suggested the importance of communication to the approach of how a kitchen can be designed around multiple individual’s needs. Results can be used to guide future research in the application of universal design to kitchens to accommodate the widest range of individuals apart from of their abilities.

Belinda Nuth Sloboda

Student Preparedness of Three-Dimensional Freehand Sketching and Hand Drafting Skills for Entering the Residential Design Field

Due to personal observations of recently graduated interior design students practicing in the residential field, the researcher found the need to conduct research to find out if current seniors in interior design programs felt they had the necessary skills to be competent in the residential field. To accomplish this task, the researcher conducted several interviews with professional interior designers and distributed questionnaires to nearby colleges with interior design programs. When all questionnaires were completed and returned, and after studying the data, the researcher found that the basis for the research was founded current interior design students seem to be lacking the necessary hand sketching and three dimensional drafting skills required for working in the residential field.

Melissa K. Smallwood

Thinking Outside of the Cubicle: The Benefits of Innovative Office Design

In today's economic climate, a growing number of companies expect their staff to work longer hours while increasing their productivity. Yet without providing incentives, it is difficult to motivate people to work both longer and harder. An effectual way to accomplish this aim is through innovative workplace design. However, contrary to popular belief, innovative office design does not have to entail niceties and extravagant features found in offices like Google. Innovatively designed spaces should not merely be an indulgence but also serve practical purposes. The results are an environment that is inclusive of all and attainable for business of any size. The advantages of innovative office design are many. Innovative workplaces result in reduced workplace stress, increased job satisfaction, and greater organizational commitment; thus substantiating a clear connection between the design of an office and the well-being of its occupants. In order to provide an empirical framework for the benefits of innovative office design, Kolano Design, a graphic and interior design firm in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania was comprehensively investigated. The three-tiered research involved (a) an interview with management to gain a detailed background of the company, (b) photographed observation to document the office environment, and (c) survey questionnaires to establish employee demographics and job satisfaction levels. The results of the study indicated that innovative office design positively influenced the way that the employees at Kolano Design felt about the company and their jobs. The participants denoted that the incorporation of innovative interior design in the workplace helped to increase their creativity and productivity. The conclusion is that good design is an investment in the most important asset a business has its people. Innovate office design provides employees motivation to do more and to do better confirming that a well-designed space is not only beneficial for employees but for businesses as well.

Susan Hutzler Venatta

Keeping Students Engaged in the Past: How History can become a Current Event

Le Corbusier once described experiencing architecture as the foot that walks, the head that turns, the eye that sees (Kostof, 1995, p. 3). Students studying the history of architecture and interior design may not be able to truly experience the beauty and significance of the past by looking at pages in a textbook or slides on a screen. Certainly, names of buildings can be memorized and design characteristics identified, but are these lists and two dimensional images enough to connect the past to present day design?

Noelle C. Weaver

Client Perception of Visual Presentation Methods Used by Designers to Communicate Design Intent

In interior design/architecture practice, many professionals are distinguishing themselves from competitors by creating digital images that depict project concepts in a realistic manner. Yet, few have studied how digital images are perceived by potential clients. The purpose of this study was to examine clients' understanding of and preferences for digital and traditional or hand-generated presentations.

The study surveyed 30 participants of which 11 were male and 19 were female. Participants were tested in two categories; Plan Comprehension (Survey Section 1) and the Comparison of Traditional and Digital Presentations (Survey Section 2). Survey Section 1 of the questionnaire anonymously tested participants on their ability to comprehend interior drawings of an existing kitchen floor plan and the corresponding proposed kitchen floor plan with samples of proposed material finishes. Survey Section 2 of the questionnaire compared client perceptions of traditional and digital presentation formats using the same proposed space concept for the analysis (only changing the presentation media format). This section asked participants to identify their preferred method of visual presentation and the effectiveness of each presentation method.

Results indicated that participants had little difficulty understanding the proposed kitchen in Survey Section 1. Results from Survey Section 2 indicated that the digital presentation was favored by the majority of participants primarily because of the digitally animated visual tour. In contrast, the rendered elevation was noted as the least helpful presentation image. Although the digital presentation was selected as the best representation of the proposed kitchen and the most professionally executed presentation, the presentation itself did not dramatically affect the selection of the preferred professional designer associated with the creation of the digital presentation. An ANOVA analysis compared gender and age range in order to find any significance between grouped answers. No correlations were found. It is in the best interest of the design community to fully understand client assumptions and preconceptions regarding traditional presentation formats and the social impact of digital presentation technology. Interior design/architecture programs should consider technological changes that are impacting the current and future practice of interior design and appropriately reevaluate and restructure curriculum requirements.

Andrea L. Wolff

Sustainable Design Education: Are Future Interior Designers Ready for Present Day Design Issues?

Interior design education is ever expanding. It is imperative for educators to stay abreast of new issues and topics. Today, the design world faces its hugest challenge yet. Environmental issues are at the headline of every subject. Designing for sustainability is important for designers to meet the needs of today’s society. Undergraduate interior design students require an education that provides them with a sufficient amount of information in sustainability. The research conducted in this study seeks to determine if enough information in the area of sustainability is being provided to present day undergraduate interior design students. The research shows that students are being provided sustainable design content, but at times, it is only provided as a single course. In this case, interior design programs need to be modified in order to reinforce sustainability across the curriculum. Faculty members may need to update their knowledge as well in order to provide the information to the students. Further research is needed in the area of sustainable interior design education in order to further investigate the degree to which sustainability is being delivered to design students.