Presenting Thesis Work at Ciantec ’12

My proposal for a call of papers entitled “Recontextualizing Abandonment in Community” has been accepted to the Ciantec ’12 conference.

Paper Abstract

Neglect is everywhere and is most likely in your community. As you begin to pay attention, you may begin to see people take back space, redefining its purpose and suggesting a new function for a space. Perhaps neglected areas become local meeting spots. Perhaps they become function areas. In one instance, I saw community members turn an abandoned lot into a clothing exchange for good will. In this realization and fascination, I began to think about how graphic design could help be a catalyst for the community to take back abandoned areas. Could there be a way to encourage community, without force, to re-use their local neglected areas? Is it possible that graphic design could suggest new meanings around neglect that communities could respond to at a personally level, rather than the commercial level?

My response to these questions resulted in an investigation where I would insert provocative questions and statements in neglected areas, inspired by first-hand research from community members. In other words, I went out into different communities and talked to its citizens, discussing some issues and concerns surrounding neglected areas that directly affected them every day. My primary focus was to develop a strong narrative between written content and neglected spaces. Each phrase is carefully constructed, inspired by individuals, and intended to transform meaning in neglected areas. Perhaps as the narrative expands, definitions surrounding neglect would change over time and residents might begin to reclaim spaces.  This could be a way to revitalize areas without actually redesigning a specific space. Disguised as city street signs, chalk drawings, and boarded up blackboards, the narrative is inserted within the physical design of the urban landscape. They are not presented, but instead, discovered. Each piece recontextualizes a particular neglected location by manipulating meanings, building curiosity, and provoking interest.

To view paper: CIANTEC2012 Recontextualizing Abandonment: Article


About the Conference:

“CIANTEC, is an inter and transdiciplinary congress, focusing on art, new technology and communication. Ever since 2007 different institutions have hosted it itinerantly. Up to 2010 the encounter was taking place annually; from its fifth issue it ensues biennially.

The event features distinctively among the knowledge areas it comprehends as well as in the research and diffusion areas. Its interdisciplinarity  is clearly identifiable on the theme of each issue, for it cover and relates the subjects and the researches every and each one of the participant institution.”

The conference will be hosted by Inhotim, Brazil. The area, according to its website, is “known nowadays as the major center of contemporary art and botanic. With more than 230 acres and a vast area of open-air masterpieces, and even in temporary galleries and site specifics, Inhotim will also host CIANTEC.



To view full thesis, click here: Recontextualizing Neglected Space in Community: Full Paper

Spatial Interventions

Community Vacancy Project emerges in Atlanta neighborhoods

Walking my neighborhood streets of Atlanta, a new project has emerged in the community. These street signs and chalk drawings in the Kirkwood downtown area are part of a project called Community Vacancy.

It employs a number of different mediums to draw attention to spaces like street signs designed to subtly blend in with other street signs in the neighborhood, chalk drawings which address spaces like parking lots, sidewalks, and other paved areas, and blackboards which act as leave behinds placed in boarded up windows of abandoned buildings. All of these implementations are temporary and are not meant to permanently change or damage these spaces.

The intention is to build curiosity among passerby-ers and provoke interest of the areas, possibly even spark innovation for transforming these vacant places in the community. Below are some photos.

The website reads,

“We believe that repurposing or reinventing vacant places between ownership by means of design should increase community engagement and connect people and place while discouraging issues like crime, pollution, etc. that result from under-populated, forgotten and abandoned places.”


Design Strategies for Community Driven Art Project

This community-driven art project is focused on the reinvention of abandoned buildings by means of design to improve sustainability of communities and trigger awareness. Inspired by my local neighborhoods in Atlanta, the project is a reaction to the increase of abandoned buildings and lots in the area as the recession continues and the economy struggles.


  1. Create something that is beautiful, interesting, and engaging that community members and visitors alike can enjoy on a simple, surface level.
  2. Create a public space where community members could gather and interact with the space and potentially each other.
  3. Promote a safe, pedestrian friendly environment where pollution, graffiti and crime are discouraged.
  4. Advocate for community. Work with business owners and residents to design for the people of the neighborhood.


  1. Raise awareness among community members and visitors that the property is vacant – Potentially help gain exposure for your building to lease / sell / rent to future business owners.
  2. Reduce crime and graffiti surrounding vacant building. Throughout month duration of project, I will be responsible to set up, maintenance, and break down.
  3. Turn a neglected space into a productive one. Bring activity to the area. Promote public space.

Research Methodology

As vacancies rise in Atlanta neighborhoods, I’ve asked resident and business owners their views on some of the empty and/or abandoned properties that are among them. The opinions are largely of concern and hope for new business in the area. On the other hand, when talking to building owners, I was surprised to hear the lace of concern or even care of the situation in neighborhoods. The intense contrast of views is quite interesting to say the least.


How do property owners of vacant areas respond to revitalizing buildings, lots, etc.?

Property owners of vacant buildings have mixed feelings at best regarding the effects of vacancy rates in communities. Most of the property owners that I have spoken with do not live in the area or see the establishments on a normal basis. Because this is the case, I believe that some do not truly understand the detriment associated with vacancy rates, empty lots, over-grown parking lots, and the like. How can one if they are not present to see the issues? A property owner that takes care of his property visits the site about once per month to clean, repaint, pick up trash, and trim landscape. Many of these owners have bought foreclosed properties and take care of many properties around the city. Some property owners like owner of 299 Moreland Avenue, Coin Laundry in Little Five Points refused to answer any questions regarding my efforts to clean up and repurpose vacant areas and instead repeated over and over, “all I care about is money in my pocket.”

How do residents react to vacant places in their community?

Residents, on the other hand, respond much differently to the issue. In general, there is a much larger concern for revitalizing the business communities of their neighborhoods and improve the state of empty storefronts. Citizens have voiced opinions that range from simple improvements like cleaning up trash and increasing lighting at night to more detailed responses like repainting the empty storefronts or encouraging art in the empty spaces.

Feedback for Improvement

  1. A farmers market or community garden would be a great way to use these empty buildings
  2. Paint empty store fronts in new colors
  3. More light at night
  4. More green space
  5. More businesses
  6. More police presence
  7. I’d love to see some diverse restaurants in the neighborhood.
  8. It’s the little things. Like picking up trash
  9. Less empty parking lots

Conceptual Development

Below are some ideas for the project that will re-energize these empty spaces in the neighborhood.

Some artists and designers that are inspirational to my work include Tyree Guyton, Candy Chang, Jenny Holzer, Gordan Matta-Clark,and Christo.Some artists and designers that are inspirational in my work include Tyree Guyton, Candy Chang, Jenny Holzer, Gordan Matta-Clark,and Christo.


Building Wayfinding Solution Presented to GSU: Concept Inspired by NY Subway Systems

Environmental Graphics is the study of how graphics in public and private spaces (i.e., in an environment) inform, educate, and guide users.

Wayfinding is the methodology of arranging indicators to guide people to their destinations. Signs are tools that aid in wayfinding. Architectural indicators such as light, color, materials, and pathways also play a large role in wayfinding. A successful wayfinding program is intuitive and self-navigable, and it protects the overall visual integrity of the site. Wayfinding is specific to its place and visitors.

Specifically, we are proposing new wayfinding solutions for the Arts and Humanities Building at Georgia State University on 10 Peachtree Center Avenue. The building has two wings on each floor and five floors total.

Last week, graduate students presented concepts to the art office that proposed better wayfinding solutions for the GSU Arts and Humanities building. The proposals were received well and steps to move forward with raising funds are underway.


  1. Georgia State has requested a wayfinding system to improve user understanding of the Arts & Humanities Building.
  2. Choose a particular entrance to the building. Main entrance is proposed from Peachtree Center Ave by the galleries.
  3. Focus on the interior of the building firstly –Budget request is under 20K.
  4. Create a wayfinding strategy starting at the bank of elevators on the first floor.
  5. Create visual facsimiles of your concepts (photo-shopped photos) and follow it through each of the 5 floors as it relates to the elevator banks and the areas outside the elevators.

Design Intention

The Railway Wayfinding Concept offers a solution for the arts and humanities building that mimics the essence and style of some of the best-designed subways in the world. Specifically, I examined the New York Transit System and The Underground in London. The design employs striped patterns denoting pathways from each level of the building as well as from floor to floor in the stairwell. The uses of circle contained “destinations” denote floor levels. This package also includes a map that would be shown at each elevator landing denoting color scheme and floor level. Along with these design elements, a tile pattern will be adhered to certain surface areas of the building (primarily the main entrance walls of each floor). These could be used as pin-up areas as well.


PMS 404
PMS Black
PMS Black 5
PMS 301
PMS 420

Tiles: MDF cut squares
Epoxy and / or adhesive for tiling