TechTastic: Additional Research

30, نوفمبر 2010

Below is qualitative research we collected through interviews to offer insight into possible solutions outside of a redesigned floor plan.

Interview with Freshman Dorm Resident

Interview with Freshman Dorm Peer Leader

Interview with Freshman Dorm Hall Director

Interview with Suite Resident

Interview with Suite Resident Advisor

Interview with Apartment Resident

Interview with Apartment Resident Advisor

NoPark; Assignment 1

24, نوفمبر 2010


EHC logo

The NO PARK green space is a project actualized by the Environmental Health Clinic in New York City.  Rather than addressing health issues like a medical clinic, they work to solve environmental issues brought forth by “impatients.” Patients at this clinic are referred to as impatients because they are too impatient to wait for government action to improve environmental health.  Impatients set up an appointment with the EHC to discuss environmental issues in their area.  Their so-called prescription is data detailing what they can personally do to improve environmental health, and how they can get involved with community action as well.  As well as diagnosing the issues of impatients, the EHC conducts their own experiments and projects.

Natalie Jeremijenko, a renowned contemporary artist and engineer with a background in biochemistry, physics, neuroscience, and precision engineering, currently heads this organization.  She is known for radical ideas and projects involving the environment and social change.  As well as heading the EHC, she is an assistant professor at NYU in the Visual Arts department.  TechTacular learned of the NoPark project through listening to Jeremijenko’s speech, “The Art of the Eco-mind Shift.”

NoPark is a solution to an environmental health problem that is most prevalent in cities.  This project tackles the need for more green space in big cities and the issue of excess pollutants. This project places micro engineered green spaces adjacent to fire hydrants in the no parking zones.  The green space mainly consists of low growth mosses and grasses.  The NoPark zones not only provide more green space but also serve to prevent oily storm water from running into the rivers, stabilize the soil, and be a durable and low maintenance surface cover.  NoPark areas also help clear out road pollutants and work to decrease carbon dioxide levels by sequestering air pollutants.  While these spaces continue to function as emergency vehicle parking, they will now have a greater purpose on the many non-emergency days.


Taxonomic categories

Activist Design, Urban Space Design, Environmental Corrective Design, Micro-Landscape Design, Fire-Hydrant Garden Design

Activist design: Through the Environmental Health Clinic, environmentally conscious people within a community are able to go in and talk to workers of the clinic who can help them figure out ways to remedy their concerns.

Urban Space Design: The designers of this project have used the urban setting to simultaneously address the issues of insufficient green space and excess pollutants.

Environmental Corrective Design: The NoPark project was designed to provide a green solution for the issue of chemicals and toxins in the street flowing into rivers and estuaries.

Micro-Landscape Design: The aspect of increased green space with NoPark involves placing plant life in an area that is generally unused, like no parking zones. Since these zones are small, the idea of miniature landscaping comes into play.

Fire-Hydrant Garden Design: These gardens are planted in no parking zones, which are normally in front of fire hydrants. However, in the case of an emergency, fire trucks or emergency vehicles can park over the gardens and they will still regrow.


Negotiations include: who maintains these green spaces and how they are maintained; how pedestrians and commuters treat these spaces; how the project is financed and who pays what; and where will these spaces exist and for how long

Maintaining the space vs. who should maintain it: These projects are completely voluntary so whoever plans out the projects must have a team that regularly maintains the space. If not, the plants could get out of control, and it would end up looking like a mess of weeds.

Recognizing aesthetic value of a space vs. viewing it as a waste of space: this ties into the maintenance of the project because if the space looks aesthetically pleasing then passersby may recognize that it’s there to serve a purpose or simply respect it because it looks presentable.

Cost vs. Gain: these projects are voluntary, so in order to pay for them the project coordinators have to use funds from their own pocket. This poses a challenge because although the intent is for the benefit of the community, some people are reluctant when it comes to using their money to help a local cause. This is especially the case when it has the potential to fail because it isn’t a fully established organization but a team of people planting gardens in urban areas. There is also the possibility of having to replant then over and over due to destruction from either emergency vehicles or troublemakers.

Location vs. Durability: these gardens have to be strategically placed since they are funded through the assets of everyday people, and there are several no parking zones around the city. They need to be placed in areas where they will provide the most benefit and last the longest.

Our project is based around the idea of Communal Living, and how private living spaces can have a community feel.

Elevator Pitch:

For: College students who want to become acquainted with more people on their floor and for people who are trying to create a better sense of community in their building.

Why: Most apartment and suite style buildings do not have the great sense of community that is common in freshman dorms. Communities are also slowly becoming more and more isolated with urbanization, and in order to promote a bigger sense of unity something must be done to merge or balance private life with social life.

Innovation: Redesign floor plans or apartment set up in order to impose more unification amongst the residents.

Function:  The change in floor plans will cause residents to be more compelled to socialize with fellow residents.  The new design will create a more interactive environment that serves as a community rather than isolated units.

So that: People living in apartments or suite style dorms will regain the positive community atmosphere that was present while living in the freshman dorms.



One of the biggest issues in today’s living environment is the growing lack of a sense of community due in part by urbanization. Our goal as a group was to find a mock representation of this issue in our environment so as to observe and draw conclusions that would render a solution in the form of an innovation. We found the residence halls around campus to be a workable representation of this issue.

It is widely acknowledged and advertised that the Freshman Experience supported a greater sense of community than any other living areas around campus, so we had in mind to set the freshman dormitories as our basis to draw comparisons from. However, first we had to collect data to support this view, so we developed a simple survey in which we asked residents from different style communal spaces to name as many residents they knew that resided in their building. Whichever living space produced the greatest amount of responses, (which we assumed would directly correlate with the average number of names recalled) we determined to represent the ideal living environment for a community.

The second part of the research involved taking pictures of the setup of each style of residence hall, with special attention to arrangement and places where residents could interact. This included areas such as kitchens, bathrooms, hallways, and lounges.

Data & Results:


The above graphs summarize the results from the survey data below. The sample is of 40 rooms from a freshman dormitory (Perry), a suite (Woodruff South), and an apartment (Eighth Street South), each being representative of their respective living spaces. The surveys were conducted between the hours of 7pm and 9pm on a Saturday night when most residents were believed to be present. As hypothesized, the freshman dormitory had the greatest number of responses and average number of names recalled. Next in line was the suite followed by the apartment. The data definitely supported our hypothesis; however, more research should be conducted and data collected to ensure reliability.

Survey Data

Group member Hyuk Jin Yoon’s Testimony:

I am currently living in Glenn, one of the male freshman dormitories on east campus.  Glenn has two different kinds of rooms. One is the two-person room, and the other is four-person room.  The room where I am assigned is a four-person room separated into two rooms where second is placed in the very corner of the hallway. Because it is placed in the corner side, our room’s interaction with other residents is very isolated. I do not know anybody’s name living on my floor except for my roommates and PL. This occurs with my three other roommates as well due to our room being far from the main hallway. In my opinion, space structure is what makes residents more communal or not.

Freshman Dormitory Living Space (Perry)

Suite Living Space (Woodruff South)

Apartment Living Space (Eighth Street South)

The pictures compiled into the YouTube videos in addition to Yoon’s account above add explanation to the results obtained in the survey. The freshman dormitories are more communal in arrangement. A large bathroom and kitchen is shared with most of the hall and select lounges are frequented by residents from all over the building. The room setup is more open and inviting to strangers and encourages interaction when doors are left open. This works adversely with apartments, on the other hand, due to the amount of empty space in which an inhabitant is less likely to be seen as well as the many separators present (doors). The same can be said for suites in this regard. The one thing that gives suites greater means of interaction in terms of setup would be the communal kitchens and large lounges, which the apartments lack. Due to these observations slight changes in floor plans could be the best probable solutions.

Further Research:

Though we would like to call our research a done deal, other significant observations were noted that could better our research if incorporated. A lot of people in the upper classman living spaces kept the people they lived with as freshman in their social circle for instance. This was particularly common with athletes, and further supports the sense of community that the freshman dormitories build. Also, research needs to be performed in how communities are built more in light of social setting and not just building arrangements like the ThinkBig program at Tech focuses on.


20, نوفمبر 2010

Group Members: Michael Jones, Sarah Brand, Gita Khote, Hyuk Jin Yoon

Global Issue: Live/Work Space, Communal Living

Area of focus: How community-oriented living spaces differ from private living spaces, and how private living spaces can be structured in more of a community sense.

How do we plan on researching this topic?

We plan to research this topic by focusing on these aspects prevalent in the residence halls across campus. The freshmen experience halls appear to have more of a community feel whereas the apartments and suites seem to be more isolated.

What is the field activity that your team is planning?

For the field activity we plan to survey residences in freshmen dorms, suites, and apartments for how many names of residents they can give, which would indicate how many people they know and interact with. We will also take photographs of each living space to compare how they differ in terms of space and setup. More ideas may come to us along the way, but for now this is our starting point.


10, نوفمبر 2010

Group Members: Sarah Brand, Gita Khote, Hyuk Jin Yoon, Myke Jones

Global Issue: Over-population

Narrow Focus: Improving line/traffic systems

Eco-Friendly Design

7, نوفمبر 2010

TechTacular: Sarah Brand, Gita Khote, Hyuk Jin Yoon, Myke Jones


We wanted to find a case study that dealt with ecofriendly design and that would have a greater impact on larger cities since we live in Atlanta. Originally we found our idea after listening to a speech by Natalie Jeremijenko on design, engineering, and the ecosystem.  She spoke of a project about “texting fish.” Further research led us to learn about the project Amphibious Architecture which is being sponsored by the Architectural League.  This innovative idea leads to interaction between humans, fish, and their shared ecosystem.  This project uses a network of floating tubes in rivers that measure and monitor water quality, presence of fish, and human interest.  This system is currently in use in the East River and Bronx River in New York City.  These tubes float in the water with three feet above and three feet below.  At the top of the tube there is a light that glows different colors to convey changes in water quality. When dissolved oxygen is high, the light shines a blue-green color, and when it’s low it shines red.  The light also turns on when a fish swims under it, letting passerby beside the water know how abundant the fish population is in that area. People can also interact with this system by “texting the fish.”  When one sends the message, the floating buoy will blink twice to confirm that it has received the message.  The person will then get a response that contains the current status of the river (changes in oxygen levels, quantity of fish).  This project allows people to interact with and show an interest in their ecosystem.  This project is currently being presented at the ‘Toward the Sentient City’ exhibit at the Architectural League.

The taxonomic categories that we placed this project in are Bio-Interactive Design, Social Awareness Design, and Scientific Design.  These all show the different facets of design this project covers.  Some negotiations involved in this project might include how to implement this design without adversely affecting river life and traffic, how to financially accomplish this project on a larger scale, and how the materials and equipment will hold up against the water in the changing seasons.

This video is where we found both of our chosen design projects.  It discusses several other eco-design ideas as well.



As previously stated, we focused on case studies that deal with eco-friendly designs that can impact large cities such as Atlanta. As before, our second case study, a project know as “No Park”, originates from Natalie Jeremijenko’s “The Art of the Eco-mind Shift”, an address to correct environmental woes by combining art, engineering, environmentalism, and biochemistry to create real-life experiments that enable social change.  This innovative idea, designed by Xclinic (the environmental health clinic + lab) of New York University, is about landscaping the no parking fire hydrant spaces with mosses, grasses, and other vegetation. This environmental design provides several benefits, especially in cities, where many pollutants exist on streets. These micro-engineered green spaces prevent storm water run off; stop pollutants from traveling into estuary systems; stabilize soil through use of foliages; and provide durable low-maintenance surface cover. More importantly, these green spaces will decrease carbon dioxide levels by sequestering some of the airborne pollutants while at the same time infiltrating all road-born pollution. Furthermore, because the surface cover is filled with mosses and grasses, fire trucks can still park in these spaces for emergency. The flatten plants will be able to regenerate after the emergency situation, and continue to infiltrate pollutants during normal, non-emergency days.

Taxonomic categories

Activist Design, Urban Space Design, Environmental Corrective Design, Micro-Landscape Design, Fire-Hydrant Garden Design


Negotiations include: who maintains these green spaces and how they are maintained; how pedestrians and commuters treat these spaces; how the project is financed into who pays what; and where will these spaces exist and for how long.

Sources: (speech)