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Rhonda

Gilmore

Senior Lecturer
2419 Martha Van Rensselaer Hall
Ithaca, New York
Design + Environmental Analysis

Biography

As a design educator, I believe in balancing critical inquiry with skill development:  teaching students how to use their intellect and utilize their skills to problem-solve for a design-hungry world is both challenging and immensely rewarding.  This combination of left brain / right brain functions known as the design process improves the human condition and I view my role as a guide for students as they endeavor to learn from those problems that require and even plead for a designed response.

•  Academic Coordinator, PURSUIT :  DEA's Career Fair

        Organizing our Department's recruitment event for our students continues to be a success:  13 firms came to campus to present their work and interview prospective applicants in the Spring of 2018.  We had over 75 DEA and 30 non-DEA students particiate in this networking and interviewing opportunity.

•  Faculty Represenative for Student Chapter of ASID (American Society of Interior Designers)

     Continue to work with this dynamic group of pre-professional designers to coordinate resume reviews, mock-interview sessions, service learning opportunities, and coordinate their efforts with DEA's recruitment fair, PURSUIT.

•  Coordinator, DEA LightLAB

         Utilizing this campus-wide resource for both lighting instruction and research, I work with students in DEA 2750 to identify and analyze multiple light sources in the Lab.

 Member - National Council for Preservation Education

 Member - National Trust for Historic Preservation

 Member - Preservation League of New York

  

 

        

 

•  DEA 2203  two projects in this course provided students with opportunities for public engagement:

•  Design of Tompkins Center for History & Culture [TCHC]:  students in this studio were asked to design the new home for The History Center, a local history organization moving to a new facility in 2019.  After site visits and interviews with clients, each student completed the design of the new museum, incorporating a significant piece of Ithaca history, the "Tommy Plane," a WWI military training plane constructed here in Tompkins County from 1914 to 1918. 

Partners-to-Partners:  As part of this project, students partnered with local non-profit organizations who will be located within the TCHC building, formerly the Tompking Trust Company located on Bank Alley on the Ithaca Commons.  Each student worked with staff of each non-profit to design the organization's exhibit that will be showcased in the lobby of the new TCHC.  Students created two-dimensional collateral and models of these design proposals and presented their final design solutions to their clients for both of these projects, making for a very realistic and locally-focused collaboration.

 

•  DEA 4401  adaptive re-use projects for upper-level design students

For the past 25 years, I have asked students in DEA 4401 to create new uses / increase the viability of either jeopardized or under-utilized historic structures.  In 2018, we worked on a building in downton Scranton, PA :  the location of "The Office"  television show's Dunder Mifflin Paper Company.  Our clients were the current owners of this enormous former-train-manfacturing facility whose tower is a part of the preliminary footage of "The Office."  We traveled to Scranton, conducted a site visit where we complete field dimension studies and photo documentation.  Each student then completed a feasibility study to determine the best use for this historic structure:  markets, co-working spaces, hotels, restaurants, and hydroponic urban farms were some of the solutions.  These projects were then distributed to the buidling owner and will be used in the real estate development of the buildling.

The Schematic Design reviews for this project were conducted by local architects and designers coming to DEA to review the student work.  I am committed to connecting local firms with our students so that there is less of a stigma around professionals, and students benefit from these practitioners who enjoy coming "back to school."  This critique provides the students with pertinent feedback in the middle of the project, encouraging them to make the necessary changes before the final project is completed in December.

 

Balancing skill development for professional practice with inspiring, innovative design thinking brings my role as educator into focus.  To encourage students to value their personal investment in their design education, each course I teach incorporates increasingly independent learning opportunities.  There's also an emphasis on communication:  building confidence in sketching and visual skills, teaching effective, empathic listening techniques, oral presentation organization, and business basics such as contractual agreements and multi-tasking in project management.

Advising and mentoring both undergraduates and teaching assistants brings meaning to my work:  I strive to combine my previous business experience with my years as a design educator to provide realistic yet hopeful advice about how to navigate both academic realities and future employment settings.  A considerable amount of time is devoted to strategizing the job search process and portfolio reviews.

The commitment I feel to my students is demonstrated in both my teaching and advising and in activities outside the studio / my office:  I coordinate DEA's annual recruitment fair, PURSUIT, which brings both DEA alumni and other professionals back to campus for two days of intensive networking and interviewing opportunities for both our undergraduate and graduate students.  

2019 represents my 25th year teaching in DEA and I was honored to receive the Weiss Teaching Award in 2018 for excellence in undergraduate education.  This affirmation of my commitment to my students encourages me to continue dedicating my professional and personal energies to students who are on their academic journeys which leads them to professional fullfilment.

DEA 2203 - StudioSHIFT

•  Tomkins Center for History & Culture :  students in this exhibit design studio worked with a local history museum on their new home in the Tompkins Trust Building on Bank Alley, The Commons, Ithaca, NY.  This project is a percursor to the actual design / construction of the History Center's new museum space in a former local banking institution.  Students conducted field visits to document the structure, interviewed staff at the History Center, even incorporated a WW I training airplane manufactured here in Ithaca called the "Tommy Plane."  Completed design solutions included concept / blocking diagrams / wayfinding / user experience diagrams / branding / floor plans / interior elevations / 3D models of the museum spaces. 

•  Partner-to-Partner Project :  After the TCHC project, students were paired with 7 local non-profit organizations who will be co-located in the TCHC and the students designed exhibits for each.  After conducting interviews and researching the mission and history of each partner, students developed graphic design / branding / 3D solutions to tell the story of each organization.  Construction documents and specifications were also generated to provide each partner with all the necessary documentation so that they can proceed with the production of these exhibits.  These design solutions / exhibits will be installed and placed in the "tower" exhibit unit in the public lobby area of the new TCHC throughout 2019 - 2020.

Course Evaluation :  4.5 of 5     45% response rate

 

DEA 2750 - Light In•Forming Space   Lighting Design Studio

Due to the night-time offering of a studio, this class attracted students from across campus, making this a multi-disciplinary experience for all participants.  Since many students are anxious to create their own product, the first assignment was a luminaire based on a conceptual approach using lighting prose from literature.  Each student created multiple study models and then, using the Design and Fabrication Studio, a final model that replicates the actual light fixture.  Graphic documentation of the luminaire included branding, cross-sectional view, and exploded isometric view of the luminaire.  A new project this year was to ask each student to ressurect a previous project they had completed and focus on the lighting design of the space / building.  The students selected projects from the adaptive re-use project from DEA 4401, architecture projects for those AAP students, and for those students without previous projects, they were asked to re-lamp an existing space to all LED luminaires.  The class was taught lighting design and human behavior, how to complete an RCP (reflected ceiling plan) and lighting legend, as well as to select luminaires / cut sheets that meet ASHRAE standards, to reduce the energy for this installation.  These projects will be submitted to the SOURCE Lighting competition in early 2019 for including in this contest which highlights college lighting design student work. 

Course Evaluation:  4.69 of 5    56% response rate


DEA 3030 - Introduction to Materials, Finishes, and Furnishings

After the study of interior materials' characteristics and capabilities, the course moved onto the sustainable approach to the selection and specification of "green" interior materials. LEED criteria were connected to the study of creating sustainable interiors with an emphasis on earning points for design decisions. Field trips exposed students to "materials in action" and provided examples of use / maintenance issues. Skills such as life cycle costing and writing green specifications were incorporated into the course, as were group work / presentations on current sustainable material options for the built environment.  The first assignment asked each student to manipulate a material to test its potential and pitfalls, resulting in three-dimensional material explorations that stretched their sensibilities about what a material could and could not do.  And the last assignment focused on the study and familiarity with one material from three categories:  grown / oil-based / mined from the book by Chris Lefteri called Materials for Design.  Each student selected a material from one category and compiled information ranging from where the material is sourced, how it is used, and its advantages and disadvantages.  Then the students designed an innovative product or system using their material as the generator for ideas and applications. Documentation of this process was illustrated in the graphic design of posters for this MyMaterial assignment, the format of which was proposed by a member of the class and then voted on to be used as the class format.  These posters were then displayed with the material manipulations, tracking the beginning and end of their search for material "truth."

Course Evaluation:  4.84 of 5    46.0% response rate

 

DEA 4401 - Design Studio VII

This adaptive re-use / preservation studio is the only comprehensive studio experience for students focusing on interior design in DEA's curriculum.  Students learn the benefits of historic preservation relevant to sustainable design, incorporate the LEED system in their projects, and study an existing historic structure to use as the context for their interior design solutions.  

A culturally-significant builidng in downtown Scranton, PA was selected for this year's studio, the Pennsylvania Paper & Supply Company, made popular by the television series, "The Office."  During the opening credits of this show, the tower of this building is shown and this site has fans of the show visit many years after the conculsion of this comedy-cult-classic.  Students and instructors traveled to Scranton for a site visit, field dimensions, documentation and to better understand the economic challenges of downtown Scranton.  After meeting with the building owner, the president of PA Paper & Supply, students conducted feasibility studies, looked at geographic amenities, possible business opportunities for this location and proposed new uses for all three floors of this >100,000 square foot structure built in 1863.  While space planning proved to be challenging due to the enormity of the quantity of space, each student proposed viable uses for this significant building.  Final deliverables included:  adaptive reuse assessment (documentaiton and analysis of existing structure), program documents, contractural agreement, concept, schematic design, design development, and construction documents.  

Course Evaluation:  4.55 of 5     80% response rate

 

 

  • M.A. 1994 - Cornell University Interior Design
  • B.S. 1982 - University of Cincinnati Architecture, Art and Planning
  • NCIDQ  Interior Design Licensing Exam   Passed - 1988
  • LEED Associate Professional  Passed - 2009
  • LEED Commerical Interiors Certificate - Passed 2013
  • WELL Building Standard :  completion of webinar series

•  PURSUIT 2018 :  DEA Recruting Event

Now in its fourth year, the event has changed the culture in our department, creating a commitment to summer internships throughout our undergraduate and graduate student demographic.  More DEA students have internships in the summer than in previous years, and we believe that PURSUIT has had a significant impact.  For this year's event, 13 architecture and design firms (11 DEA alumni) came back to MVR Hall to present information about their work, attend a faculty luncheon, and interview our students.  Feedback from participating firms indicated that the event was another success:  they felt our students were prepared, had a diversity of project experiences in their portfolios, and were able to articulate their career goals. 

 

•  Faculty Advisor to DEA Student Chapter of ASID:  Annual Materials Fair

Continue to work with students in this dynamic group (ASID:  American Society of Interior Designers) who have taken the intiative to conduct regular meetings where students are given feedback on their resumes, taught interview skills, etc.  Also worked with the group to host our third annual Materials Fair, where over 16 manufacturer representatives came to CHE to display their innovative products and network with current students from DEA, AAP, and the Hotel School.  Attendance was over 80 students, faculty, and staff.

 

•  DEA Student Advisor 

Had the privilege of working with 13 undergraduate students in the Spring and Fall of 2018. Consistent issues seem to be course selection and job search strategies, as well as salary negotiations.  In order to facilitate more communication with my advisees, I initiated a "tea" by inviting all my advisees to share a cup of tea as a group.  8 freshmen attended in the fall of 2018 and I intend to continue this tradition:  the students appreciated the social aspect of this gathering and incorported advising questions and talked about the transition to college.  In light of the CHE considering a course for freshman to help with advising, I feel this effort is a very personal way to connect to our incoming students and encourage them to make an appointment in the future to discuss more pressing issues as they develop throughout their academic careers.

 

•  DEA LightLAB:

LightLab is an open resource to be used by both student groups and Cornell staff to test new lighting prototypes and possible lighting retrofit samples.

 

•  DEA Graduation Reception :  May 2018 

Assisted graduating seniors with their reception the afternoon of commencement and worked with the design students to complete a Gallery Exhibit of a sampling of their work over the past four years.  Event was attended by over 100 family members and friends.

DEA 2203 :  Course Website

https://blackboard.cornell.edu/webapps/blackboard/execute/modulepage/view?course_id=_78006_1&cmp_tab_id=_109639_1&editMode=true&mode=cpview

DEA 2750 :  Course Website

https://blackboard.cornell.edu/webapps/blackboard/content/listContentEditable.jsp?content_id=_3628188_1&course_id=_78007_1

DEA 3030 :  Course Website

https://blackboard.cornell.edu/webapps/blackboard/execute/modulepage/view?course_id=_80617_1&cmp_tab_id=_116617_1&editMode=true&mode=cpview

DEA 4401 :  Course Website

https://blackboard.cornell.edu/webapps/blackboard/execute/modulepage/view?course_id=_80618_1&cmp_tab_id=_116618_1&editMode=true&mode=cpview