PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractIn 2009, the American Community Survey revealed that social equality gaps in the US had reached the highest on record. Never has there been more need for social equality than now, and many experts predict that social divisions are only going to worsen. Furthermore, with the current state of the economy, the amount of resources available to non-profit organizations that attempt to mitigate social inequality has drastically shrunk. Organizations, such as TOMS Shoes, American Apparel, the One Percent, and many others have adopted corporate social responsibility practices into their business model to try to make a positive difference in the world. Currently, there is room in the arena of architecture to do what other industries have done in adopting socially responsible practices. The connection that the built environment and society share can offer a way unique way for architects to begin to promote social sustainability. Alain de Botton, author and philosopher, said society is, "for better or worse, different people in different places. Architecture's task is to render vivid to us who we might ideally be." This observation of the relationship that humanity and the built environment share with one another is one of extraordinary insight and attests to the fact that the built environment has the ability to establish a platform for values that become part of our culture. Botton's words illustrate the underlying premise of this capstone: to discover what architecture should and can be. Architecture for the public good must not merely stimulate but must also inspire and serve. Architecture that achieves both can exist as a beacon of hope for renewed prosperity and social equality. This project seeks to use the shared connection of society and the built environment to offer a unique approach to provide the basic human need of shelter, while simultaneously providing an innovative process for giving back to charitable human service organization. Furthermore, this project seeks to demonstrate that there is a strategic way to design and construct buildings that mitigate the social impact of new construction and, through this process, extend the scope of sustainability beyond energy savings into human equity.
Degree ProgramHonors College