Building Renovation Design Partnership with Non-Profit Agency: Documenting the Programming Phase of a Graduate Student Team’s Design Project

Paulette R. Hebert
Ph.D., Department of Design and Merchandising, Oklahoma State University
Suzette Barta
Ph.D., Department of Design and Merchandising, Oklahoma State University
Chitra Singh
Ph.D., Fashion Merchandising and Design, Western Michigan University
Maral Esmaeili
Department of Design and Merchandising, Oklahoma State University
Molly Jackson
Department of Design and Merchandising, Oklahoma State University
Kate Korneva
Department of Design and Merchandising, Oklahoma State University

Exploratory, service-learning project was conducted by graduate students enrolled in a design studio course. Non-profit partner was a local food pantry which required impoverished clients to physically visit their facility to acquire groceries. Student team anticipated non-profit’s clients would have disabilities and manifest challenges when visiting food pantry. Graduate students used a questionnaire and existing building conditions to inform food pantry renovation. Team documented 1) light levels and other lighting attributes; 2) physical dimensions/clearances. Team compared conditions to industry standards. Team developed open- and closed-question staff questionnaire, based on “evidence-based design” (EBD) framework. Questions addressed staff’s perceptions of clients’ disabilities/conditions; physical aspects of existing facility; modification preferences. Findings revealed clients exhibited: chronic pain, diabetes, hearing problems, limited mobility, limited reach, obesity, prone to falling, and vision problems. Staff noted inadequacies and potential modifications (i.e., movable furniture, extra seating, braille signage). Some building features did not comply with standards. Students then developed first phase of “real-world” design renovation, programming. Team used questionnaire findings, building documentation, baseline performance measurements, and building standards review to complete programming phase of renovation, designed to improve non-profit facility. Graduate student design team completed a meaningful “real-world” service-learning project with project-based learning, potentially aiding food bank clients.

Keywords: Graduate design project, Service-learning, Non-profit

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