Alec Hembree
Emily Sholder

Document Type

Thesis, Senior

Publication Date

Fall 2013




Health, Public Space, Connectivity, Hembree, Sholder






Everything that an individual knows, thinks, feels, and perceives is ultimately formed by a culmination of experiences within his or her constructed environment. Beginning with early stages f childhood development, an individual begins to develop schemas through which he or she processes internal conditions and external factors of the surrounding environment. Education through self, family, school, community, and social media further contributes to this development as the learner grows and changes over time. However, recent changes in cultural clues have altered the way children develop physically, cognitively, and socially. Considering these factors as primary influences on the individuals holistic health provides an opportunity to rethink current strategies that address the decline of health in the United States today. The increasing pace of life and reliance on technological methods has produced a demand for a "band-aid" or "quick-fix" approach to improvising holistic health and learning. In other developed countries, proactive and preventative measures, rather than reactive methodologies, form the foundation for improving health and learning conditions. Such approaches often utilize the built environment as means of generating opportunities for self-exploration of health and learning.

In the united States, education typically occurs through curricula in the educational institution, and factors o holistic health, considered separate entities, have few designated spaces. In contrast to this system, we contend that learning is an interwoven subcategory of holistic health, which is the combination of mind, body, and spirit. Rather than housing these factors in separate facilities we intend to investigate using public space to create opportunities for balances development of the three factors of holistic health.

We envision utilizing public space to develop an urban network that connects community resources to a public activity center through a system of sensorial connectivity in order to engage the individual and community in a cycle of learning, public space, design, and holistic health.

We site our investigation in an urban neighborhood in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Due to decline of public schools from lack of funding, a growing disconnect between neighborhoods and communities from gentrification, and below average health status, the local community could benefit from a new ideological approach to health as well as a new design strategy for urban connectivity.

Additional Information

Thesis advisers: Terrance Goode, Amber Bartosh, Robert Petrie

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

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