Senior Thesis 2012: Single Mothers Co-op

Senior Thesis: Single Mothers Co-op, Spring 2012 

College of Visual and Performing Arts, Syracuse University

Having become a member of the Syracuse community for a little more than 4 years, the invisible walls of the university have somehow managed to block me from the inspiring moments defined by its bordering communities. That being said, I was given a final opportunity to look past the beautiful parameters of a place that over the years has become my comfort zone.

My research has led me to take note of the individuals within each community, as well as the daily struggles they are faced with. The city of Syracuse is made up of communities. These communities are made up of families, some of which are struggling. And through that simple fact, I found my inspiration.

The community of Syracuse, known to be the economic and educational hub of Central New York, is now one of the largest communities with the lowest median individual income. Within Syracuse, single parents, 30.8% of which are single mothers, run 56.1% of homes. With the devastating fear of not being able to provide properly for their children, single mothers are faced with a multitude of stress and responsibility. While trying to create a safe, secure, and stable environment for their young children, these mothers face underlying issues like self-neglect and hopelessness. The environment is a key component in shaping human behavior and is often one of the contributing factors in a child’s negative behavior. As young children explore the world, they develop physical, cognitive and language skills, plus social and emotional competence. Their environments should be steeped in sensory experiences that are educational and enriching, not stressful or frustrating.

Syracuse has become one of the lowest income areas in Central New York. The Wescott community and its proximity to the university makes for a diverse community, with some of its residents being SU graduate students and professors, many international, and most being more lower-income to middle class permanent residents.

The site I selected for my project is 716 Wescott St. This site provides a single mother with easy access to the Erwin Nursery School, The Wescott Community Center, restaurants, mini-marts, stores, and most importantly The Women’s Information Center. The Women’s Information Center is a private, community supported, non-profit organization dedicated to promoting principles of empowering women regardless of age, race, ability, economic status, religion, or sexual orientation. An extensive amount of my research related to promoting a family’s interaction and personal relationships within the surrounding community.

The site is extremely accessible and stands in a community near those who will clearly utilize and benefit from it. My thesis project highlights the significance of the physical home environment and its ability to facilitate or constrain inter and intra family interaction, role relationships, values, and identities. Studies show that the kitchen provides physical and spiritual nourishment, and for many homes is now the heart and soul of family life. Designers and Psychologists have done extensive work to bridge the gap between physical, emotional, psychological, and motivational aspects of healthy living. My goal is to be able to facilitate an unconscious form of positive interaction and familial understanding that promotes functional living strategies for these families. The solution will work as a guide to altering an existing kitchen and communal area of a residence in order to provide single mothers and their children with a positive, nurturing, stress free environment. Enhancing the architectural aesthetic of the residence will attempt to counteract any negative responses while encouraging independence and opportunity to a vulnerable population.

Mediums Used: Hand Drafting, Marker Rendering, AutoCad 2012, Revit 2012, Sketchup Pro 8, Indesign, Illustrator, Photoshop