Building Student Resiliency Through Sensory Environments [HSW]

Considering the wellbeing of the end-user has never been more critical for designers. According to a recent Gallop survey, Generation Z, the current generation of college students, are experiencing stress, anxiety, and depression at alarming rates. They are struggling with aspects of wellbeing more than previous generations at the same age.

Multi-sensory environments can provide restorative and interactive spaces for students lessening the impacts of this troubling trend. This presentation will share the findings of a research study conducted to measure the effectiveness of a multi-sensory environment on reducing perceived stress and anxiety in students. It will also describe the challenges incorporating multi-sensory environments into college campuses, highlight the benefits students experienced, and provide insight into how the space was used. Participants will learn about the myriad of options for creating multi-sensory spaces, how to incorporate elements of play, and preferred aspects of user control and technology.

This low-budget yet high-impact project was a collaboration between a global design firm and academia, highlighting a strategy for leveraging partnerships between practice and university. Our aim is to encourage the prioritization of these spaces within college campuses and share the benefits of an innovative collaboration.

Amanda Gale, Ph.D., NCIDQ, WELL AP, LEED AP (BD+C)

Undergraduate Program Director + Internship Coordinator

Department of Interior Architecture, UNC Greensboro

Amanda Gale, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor in Interior Architecture at the University of North Carolina Greensboro who explores wellbeing in higher education and career preparedness. Her research has been recognized through grants and awards including the Stantec Innovation Partnership Grant, IDEC Special Projects Grant, the Edison Price Fellowship from the Nuckolls Fund, Bernard Glickman Deans Professorship and Best Scholarship of Design Research Presentation from IDEC. Amanda serves on the Board of Directors for the Journal of Interior Design and the Council for Interior Design Accreditation.


Senior Principal, Discipline Leader for Interior Design


Gwen Morgan is an interior designer who has devoted her career to the design of educational facilities, both higher education and K-12 buildings. She is passionate about sculpting the interior space of each project she undertakes to create a dynamic learning environment that will best accommodate students, instructors, and the community at large. This commitment is recognized in her role as Discipline Leader for Interior Design at Stantec. Gwen, a graduate of Kansas State University, leads design and technical excellence for the firm globally, guiding the Research and Benchmarking team for furniture and the interior environment, implementing best practices and fresh ideas across multiple markets.

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