The design of interiors affects everything we do. This interactive, in-person program asks: How do we feel in an interior and why do we feel that way? What elements make us feel safe or seen, productive or inhibited, happy or harmed? Knowing this, how do we design spaces to accommodate—and celebrate—different sensory needs where we work, where we learn, and where we live? Panelists will focus on lived experiences and design principles to create meaningful sensory spaces for all needs. Then we will form small breakout groups to conceptually redesign the Center for Architecture’s Tafel Hall to accommodate neurodiverse needs.
6:00 – 6:15 pm – Arrival and greetings
6:15 – 6:45pm – Panel discussion
6:45 – 7:15 pm – Breakout sessions
7:15- 7:30 pm – Shared findings
7:30 – 8:00pm – Networking and debrief
Cait Rosica, OTD, OTR/L, Director of the Neurodiversity Employment Network: Philadelphia
Rachel Updegrove, Laboratory Planner, HERA Inc.
Evander “Ev” Smith, DEI Specialist, A Step Up Academy
Jennifer Carpenter, Principal, Verona Carpenter Architects
About the Speakers:
Cait Rosica is the Director of the Neurodiversity Employment Network: Philadelphia, a network connecting employers, academics, providers, vendors, job seekers, and other allies in the Greater Philadelphia region, who support one another to enable neurodivergent individuals to gain meaningful employment. She is also the founder of Sensory Friendly Cities, a non-profit focused on community sensory accessibility. Rosica believes strongly that neurodiversity is a crucial part of diversity, equity, and inclusion, and is proud to be a part of the mission to further inclusion and belonging.
Rachel Updegrove is a laboratory planner at HERA laboratory planners. She graduated with a Bachelor of Architecture from Thomas Jefferson in 2019, with a minor in landscape design and custom minor in community health advocacy. Her neurodiversity journey began her freshman year of college with a diagnosis with OCD, and then with an ADHD and Autism Spectrum Disorder diagnosis a few months after graduating college. As a late-diagnoses autistic, she openly shares her journey and experiences as a neurodivergent woman so that no one feels alone and to remove stereotypes around autism, ADHD, and OCD. Recently, Updegrove has spoken with and jurored for design courses at Thomas Jefferson, University of Michigan, and University of Wisconsin.
Evander “Ev” Smith is an Autistic adult who uses they/them or he/him pronouns. Ev works in a K-12 school in Philadelphia for students on the autism spectrum, handling DEI programming and business office tasks. They frequently present on topics related to Autistic culture, LGBT+ Autistic identities, and Disability Advocacy. Ev was diagnosed in with autism early into their college career, around the same time that they figured out they were transgender. Since then, they changed their path to help prepare the world for coming generations of a/Autistic, LGBT+, and disabled people, so that they don’t need to go through the same struggles. Ev’s undergraduate degree is in Art/Digital Fabrications, including things like 3D printing, laser cutting, and graphic design. Their senior thesis, titled “Look Closer,” was an art installation and sensory experience that included 81 different sensory tiles. The tiles were followed by a questionnaire that encouraged participants to reflect on how the tiles made them feel, as well as think about how their reactions to each tile would change if they were more or less sensitive to sensory input.
Jennifer Carpenter is a principal of Verona Carpenter Architects and has practiced in New York since 1998. She and her partner Irina Verona are focused on building spaces that expand inclusion by creating environments that embrace neurodiversity. In 2000, Carpenter co-founded the innovative furniture and product design studio TRUCK Product Architecture, desigining furniture for retailers including the MoMA Design Store and Design Within Reach. Before earning her Master of Architecture from Columbia’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, Carpenter worked with Cesar Pelli + Associates. She graduated summa cum laude with a BA from Yale, where she studied architecture and art history. She has been a LEED Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Accredited Professional since 2010. Carpenter is a member of the American Institute of Architects and sits on the AIANY Social Sciences and Architecture Committee.
This event is offered in person; proof of complete COVID-19 vaccination (for attendees ages 5 and up) with photo ID for adults is required to attend. Food and beverages will be served. Face masks are required for visitors ages 2-5, and optional for those vaccinated. Read our full Health and Safety Protocol here.
AIANY Interiors Committee; AIANY Social Science and Architecture