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Architecture professor and graduate student help local organization provide a safe space for LGBTQ youth

June 07, 2018

Through an innovative use of the Tulane School of Architecture’s graduate research fellowship, Professor of Practice Andrew Liles and graduate architecture student Lucy Satzewich employed a design approach to help local LGBTQ youth organization BreakOUT! create a functional, welcoming space at their new headquarters.

BreakOUT! works to end the criminalization of LGBTQ youth of color and build a safer future for queer people in New Orleans. The group hosts organizing, healing justice and leadership programs, and operates an open drop-in space.

When the project began in the fall of 2017, BreakOUT! was in the midst of relocating to a larger building. Satzewich and Liles worked with the organization to identify the property conditions, organizational needs and goals to develop a program analysis and branding strategy.

To meet the need of a structured area for staff members, Satzewich used her carpentry background to design and build seven custom desks. The pieces incorporate BreakOUT! brand elements, including its logo and signature bright pink, to bring a cohesive visual identity to the room.

Working with BreakOUT! allowed Satzewich to explore her interest in how queer people make space within cities on an architectural level.

“Assisting BreakOUT! with their move to a larger space really pointed out how relatively minor changes could have a huge impact in their new layout and functionality,” said Satzewich. “Spaces like BreakOUT! provide so many services and have so much program it allowed me to experience the nuance and complication of how these spaces are created, which was really exciting to me.”

The project was also a launching point for Satzewich to establish a broader research effort looking at the spatial and architectural needs of LGBTQ youth of color. She received funding from the Phyllis M. Taylor Center for Social Innovation and Design Thinking’s Changemaker Catalyst Award to develop a foundation for the research by traveling and meeting with national allied organizations this summer.