Building toward a better quality of life

Published: November 14, 2023 Author: Sophia Rooksberry, HTC ‘26

Interior architecture is an aspect of daily human life that often goes unnoticed but is nevertheless an integral part of everything built by human hands. The study of interior architecture consists of many different facets, all of which are exemplified in Ohio University’s fifth-year Interior Architecture student, Bailey Buell.

Buell grew up in Saint Paris, Ohio, and credits her upbringing in helping her decide her future career path.

“It’s really interesting growing up in a rural community, you don’t really experience design unless you’re in a major city. So that really intrigued me…wanting to know more about design, wanting to explore more into it,” said Buell.

When Buell arrived at Ohio University, she was shocked at how much there was to learn about subject matter, specifically lessons about just how pervasive the art form is.

“I was surprised by how much design can change your quality of life, your betterment as a person, your wellness as a person. I think…the everyday person will walk through a building and not think anything of it, how it was designed, what kind of thought, what kind of research was put into it, but really the kind of environments that we live in everyday affect how we live, how we breathe, how we act,” Buell added.

Not only did Buell’s childhood in an interior design desert inspire her to improve her own life through her major, but also to focus on the healthcare concerns that a lack of interior architecture poses. Buell’s thesis, which she completed at the end of last semester, focused on that topic specifically.

“We were tasked with choosing a social issue that in some way pertains to us and my thesis was dedicated to my grandfather, who suffered from dementia. So basically, the premise was designing a…long-term memory care facility for patients with dementia and Alzheimer’s,” said Buell. “Lots and lots of research went into what kind of design elements, whether it’s color, whether it’s way-finding, all those sorts of things can impact their quality of life…finding ways to reduce mental triggers that are associated with dementia, like wandering, frustration and confusion.”

Called “Peace of Mind” memory care, Buell’s project sought to improve living environments for those who are afflicted with neurodegenerative disorders, a process which was aided by interviews with professionals and consultation of relevant literature.

The final product of Buell’s research was a healthcare facility with a neighborhood layout, communal living and dining areas, amenities that serve to remind residents of home and carefully constructed walking paths to discourage wandering and disorientation.

The class in which Buell created her senior thesis participated in the 2023 Spring Student research expo in March, which resulted in Buell winning first place in her category and being selected as one of 30 students to present her project to the Board of Trustees on October 19, 2023.

This presentation allowed Buell the chance to see the work of other students, which she said were more science-based than hers, but the amount of research she put into her thesis allowed her to fit right in with the crowd. Buell also was able to make many new connections in her field, specifically in restaurant design.

“Ideally, I really like the realm of…commercial design, I’m really into restaurant design, retail design, all those kinds of things. So, (I’m) probably going to end up somewhere in Ohio still, I hope either Columbus or Cleveland,” she said about her future within her chosen discipline.

As a fifth-year student, Buell is planning on graduating in December, and then pursuing her aforementioned career goals. Until then, Buell will continue working as a teaching assistant within the Interior Architecture program and continue to learn from long-standing faculty.