Academic journal article Human Ecology

Helping Those Who Help the Community; Interior Design Students Revamp Local Nonprofits

Academic journal article Human Ecology

Helping Those Who Help the Community; Interior Design Students Revamp Local Nonprofits

Article excerpt

Lecturer Rhonda Gilmore's sophomore interior design studio has been redesigning Ithaca--one nonprofit organization at a time--for over a decade.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

Each spring, Gilmore chooses a local non-profit organization that needs help improving their facility, and then sends her students to work. The class initially got involved in the community with help from the Cornell Public Service Center--a campus office that helps connect faculty members and students to local organizations.

"There are some very basic problems that are pervasive throughout the nonprofit world," said Gilmore, who teaches in design and environmental analysis. "These organizations are all about their services for their clients, and they don't think of their facilities as components of the services they provide. They're often in a donated building, and they're just making do."

Over the past 11 years, the class helped restore a historic building that is home to The Cancer Resource Center of the Finger Lakes, used graphic design to establish identity in several buildings on the campus of George Junior Republic, and completely redesigned a room at the Recovery Center, a local facility for Alcoholics Anonymous.

"'Their work was invaluable to us," said Bob Riter, associate director of the cancer center. "They gave us a level of knowledge and sophistication that we wouldn't have been able to afford."

For each project, the students approach the facilities through the eyes of the clients," Gilmore said. "They're trying to determine what kind of message--what kind of first impression--a facility sends."

Lobbies and reception areas tend to be important to organizations that provide a service, she said. …

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