Environment and Social Behavior | Spring 2018 

project brief:

Our class was tasked with creating a set of design guidelines for the construction of the Tompkins County Homeless Youth Shelter. The population of homeless youth in Ithaca consists of youth aged 18-25 who have been displaced from their homes. They are often victims of poor mental health, substance abuse, PTSD, and sexual abuse. As design programmers, our task was to evaluate literature, interview professionals and homeless youth, and craft guidelines that are sensitive to the needs of our target population.

My team consisted of four Cornell Design and Environmental Analysis students. We were tasked with creating design guidelines specific to the Entry and Common Space. This space would have to accommodate various levels and forms of social interaction and programming activities.


This project was particularly heartbreaking and interesting for me. The homeless population is one of the communities that I aspire to design for in the future. It was difficult learning about the harsh conditions certain youth grew up in - as programmers, we all became attached towards creating guidelines that truly prioritized their needs. We worked with another class, who used our design guidelines to propose designs for actual building. Although the end product was nevertheless beautiful, it was the first time we experienced this new dynamic between researchers and designers. Communication between the groups was vital towards truly crafting a space that is sensitive to our users needs.