Opportunities are sought to engage with the external community in both design studio and lecture courses. Students benefit from the opportunity to support organizations and individuals in need of design and research services. Awareness of design as a social art is integral to the mission of Human Centered Design.

Below are examples of courses that engage with the community.

DEA 2203: Studio SHIFT 

Students in Rhonda Gilmore’s sophomore studio partner with community and corporate contacts each year. Previous work has included a collaboration with the American Red Cross to design new mobile blood donation sites, a partnership with both Teknion and Knoll to design showroom spaces, and an on-campus project to create branding for the Cornell Marching Band and the new Fischell Band Center. 

DEA 2700: Healthy Places 

Led by Professor Nancy Wells, DEA2700 students have conducted a variety of Health Impact Assessment (HIA) projects examining the potential effects of various proposed policies, programs, and buildings on human health. These projects involve small teams of students partnering with community organizations to address a real-world proposal. Projects have examined a proposal to close the Meadow Street Community Garden; a plan to allow chickens within the City of Ithaca; the proposed expansion of the Tompkins County Jail; and the relocation of the Collegetown Fire Station, as well as various building proposals. 

DEA 3590 and DEA 6500: Problem-Solving Through Programming 

In this course for both graduates and undergraduates, students provide an architectural program for a non-profit, off-campus community partner. In past years, students have developed programs for an expansion of the Cancer Resource Center of Ithaca, a “makerspace” implemented at Beverly J. Martin Elementary School, a library implemented at Caroline Elementary School, an office space at the Tompkins Child Development Council, and a new home through Habitat for Humanity (among many others). 

DEA 4401: Adaptive Reuse Studio 

In Rhonda Gilmore’s adaptive re-use studio, students have the opportunity to apply interior design skills to existing, long-vacant historic buildings in New York State. Previous classes have partnered with the National Trust for Historic Preservation to identify at-risk sites; assess the existing structures; and generate programming, adaptive re-use solutions and construction documents. In 2016, students worked with the 1911 Beaux Arts Federal Building in Elmira, NY, and presented their work to Elmira City staff.  This video highlights the students’ redesign of the historic Hickey Freeman building in Rochester, NY.

DEA 5304: Design Accountability 

In 2016 and 2019, students in Mardelle Shepley’s upper-level course conducted a post-occupancy evaluation of the new Cornell Health facility. Students distributed questionnaires to users of the facility and evaluated the building on six key objectives. The evaluation results were compiled in a report and presented to Cornell Health administration and staff. 

DEA 5305: Health and Healing Studio 

Each year, students in Mardelle Shepley’s studio course have engaged with healthcare clients to apply evidence-based design in care settings. In previous years, students have provided pre-design services for an infusion suite at Montefiore Medical Center and have partnered with Little Angels of Honduras to design spaces for new mothers and infants at the Escuela Hospital in Tegucigalpa

DEA 5560: Health Impact Assessment 

In Spring 2017, Nancy Wells taught an undergraduate-graduate course focused on Health Impact Assessment. Students conducted HIA on the upcoming shutdown of the L-Train linking Brooklyn to Manhattan. This project involved a partnership with the Van Alen Institute in New York City, a site visit to the city, attendance at an MTA workshop, and students’ leading their own stakeholder workshop to explore the health implications of the shutdown. A final report was delivered to Van Alen and shared with NYC stakeholder.