Student Combines Creative and Educational Interests to Craft Award-Winning Thesis

Elizabeth Koenig’s School Hallway Interior Design Thesis Gains Attention in the Industry
Elizabeth wearing a mask in the stairwell of the College of Architecture and Environmental Design building.
Elizabeth Koenig is an Honors College senior from Elmore, Ohio, graduating this spring with a major in interior design and a minor in marketing. Though Elizabeth’s academic focus is design, she was inspired to complete a Senior Honors Thesis based on her original goal to become a teacher. Growing up in a family of educators, Elizabeth says, “I thought that’s what I wanted to do, too.” As she began taking classes at Kent State, though, Elizabeth found that she enjoyed the creative aspects of education more than education itself. Following her passion for creativity, Elizabeth enrolled in the interior design program. Throughout her design studio courses, Elizabeth found herself missing her education background; she explains that design studio classes ask students to design buildings for a variety of different needs, from restaurants to places of worship. However, the one type of building Elizabeth was never asked to design was the interior of a school. Elizabeth wanted a chance to practice interior design with an educational emphasis, so, at the end of her sophomore year, Elizabeth decided to complete a Senior Honors Thesis, through which she could explore educational design for herself.

Since then, Elizabeth has been researching, completing a thesis proposal, and writing her manuscript. In April, Elizabeth plans to orally defend her completed thesis, which centers around “the role of school hallways as potential learning spaces and social interaction spaces.” Throughout her thesis hours, Elizabeth completed an extensive review of literature and case studies on school interior design, then came up with her own design prototype that maximizes the learning and social potential of school hallways. Though schools are commonly the focus of interior designers, Elizabeth is one of the first to recognize the versatility of hallways and focus on their design.

In fact, Elizabeth is gaining significant recognition for her groundbreaking thesis. First, she is presenting her thesis at Kent State’s Undergraduate Research Symposium this April. Elizabeth’s thesis advisor, Assistant Professor Tina Patel of the College of Architecture and Environmental Design, encouraged her to submit her thesis to the Environmental Design Research Association, an international organization focusing on equality and social justice within environmental design. Elizabeth’s research was accepted by the organization, and she is scheduled to present at one of the association’s events in the end of May. In addition to these exciting opportunities, Elizabeth’s work was noticed by the architecture magazine Metropolis, which selected her as one of the Metropolis Future 100, an award recognizing the top 100 graduating students within North America. All of this recognition points to Elizabeth’s hard work and innovative thesis topic.

Besides gaining attention from multiple professional organizations, Elizabeth’s honors thesis has also equipped her with new skills. Though Elizabeth is still unsure of her plans post-graduation, she says that her honors thesis manuscript was a capstone to all of the extended essays she had to write for her honors courses. She also says that working on her thesis helped her recognize her natural skills. Elizabeth adds, “One of my strengths in design is diagrams. I think in diagrams, and I’m good at thinking about the technical use of spaces.” With this self-awareness, Elizabeth feels better equipped to know what types of jobs or future educational tracks she would most enjoy. Knowing her own strengths is also an asset because it allows Elizabeth to market her unique design skills to potential employers or admissions boards.

Elizabeth is grateful for the many opportunities her Senior Honors Thesis has provided, and she is excited to continue innovating as she graduates from Kent State.

For more information about the Senior Honors Thesis/Project, please contact Thesis Coordinator Lori Michael. For information about the Undergraduate Research Symposium, please email the Director of Research and Sponsored Programs, Ann Gosky.

###

PHOTO CAPTION 1: Elizabeth Koenig standing in the studio of the College of Architecture and Environmental Design building.

PHOTO CAPTION 2: Elizabeth wearing a mask in the stairwell of the College of Architecture and Environmental Design building.

Media Contact: Stephanie Moskal, smoskal@kent.edu, 330-672-2312

POSTED: Friday, April 2, 2021 - 3:09pm
UPDATED: Wednesday, April 7, 2021 - 12:44pm
WRITTEN BY:
Olivia Wachtel, Honors College Writing Intern