For addressing issues of social justice in her design studio,
Mardelle Shepley, associate dean for student services and a professor
of architecture at Texas A&M University, has received a $1,000
stipend and an opportunity to participate in the Architecture
for Social Justice Awards Program: Partnerships in Teaching.
The award recognizes the work of Shepley’s third-year architecture
design studio, “Healing Environments” (ARCH 607),
which recently developed designs for a Columbia space shuttle
memorial to be constructed in the East Texas community where the
astronauts’ bodies and most of the shuttle debris were recovered.
Shepley said she would use the funds to defray the costs for her
students attending the American Institute of Architects Academy
of Architecture for Health.
The Social Justice Awards Program was initiated in 2003 by Adaptive
Environments, a Boston-based international nonprofit organization
dedicated to enhancing the experiences of people of all ages and
abilities through excellence in design. It recognizes and supports
faculty who are leading studios that address human equity for
both students as well as those who inhabit or experience the built
environment. The program will also document the creative ways
that faculty engage in teaching architecture as a socially embedded
discipline and practice and foster an atmosphere of collaboration
and respect in their classrooms.
The awards program is funded in part by the National Endowment
of the Arts to support issues of diversity and work in introductory
graduate studios in architecture. The program also provides an
architect that serves as a “user-expert/consultant”
for the studio.
The Access to Design Professions Project of the Adaptive Environments
Center initiated the program in response to concerns about traditional
design studio pedagogy, content, and culture, as described in
several recent publications and reports on architectural education.
Over the past 25 years, Adaptive Environments has led the way
locally, nationally and internationally in the development and
promotion of “human-centered design.” Also known as
“universal design,” human-centered design has been
called the realization of truly "social" design at its
According to the Adaptive Environments Web site, human-centered
design “begins with the conviction that real excellence
in design—from urban design and architecture to product
design and information design—is directly related to how
well the design works for the greatest number of people across
the broadest spectrum of ability and age.”
“Our goal is to be a catalyst here and abroad for changing
the way we view design and how human-centered design, in all disciplines,
can truly enhance the quality of life and daily experiences of
people everywhere," said Valerie Fletcher, executive director
of Adaptive Environments.
The 2003 Architecture for Social Justice Awards Program: Partnerships
in Teaching stipends were awarded to 11 Association for Collegiate
Schools of Architecture member schools for their design studios
in the 2003-2004 academic year.
The selected faculty submitted proposals that addressed issues
of social justice—both for students as well as users of
the built environment. The studios will be documented in an online
publication Architecture for Social Justice Design Studios 2003-2004.
Faculty will also participate in a Special Focus Session and exhibit
at the 2004 ACSA Annual Meeting.