LGBTQ Identity

Dolores Shelter Program

Working to improve dormitory space at the Dolores Shelter in San Francisco, Interior Design students planned spaces to empower improve privacy for transgender guests.

Project Objective:

The “Dolores Shelter Program” introduced students to the principles of interior systems and spatial concepts through the creation/ development of 3D built and virtual spaces. In partnership with the Dolores Shelter Program [DSP], students undertook space planning and organization to empower DSP’s transgender population while improving the over-crowded dormitory and inefficient office/ common spaces. Students researched DSP’s site, conducted workshops, developed, and pitched proposals to the site Director to develop design concepts.

Project Outcome(s):

Students produced models to help visualize the design potential uncovered at the shelter and presented them to the Dolores Shelter administration. DSP staff was deeply invested in the ENGAGE project, and built close relationships with the students through regular feedback on designs and attending desk critiques at California College of the Arts. DSP Director Marlon Mendietta was so excited about the student’s designs for space saving furniture and privacy-providing bunk beds that he shared the ideas with shelter directors from across California. Assistant Professor Amy Campos has also presented this project at a variety of conferences in the U.S. and the U.K.


Most recently published as a case study in the compendium, Architecture Live Projects: Pedagogy into Practice. (Routledge, 2014).


To Lemon Hill

Academic program for Syrian child refugees living in Turkey

Project Overview:

To Lemon Hill used food gatherings to create safe public spaces and developed an ambitious mentorship/tutoring program for Syrian Refugees at Gelisim Koleji, a nearby Turkish school. Understanding the importance of a holistic approach to address the needs of displaced communities, To Lemon Hill responded to the universal concern around access to education for their children amongst mothers in Turkey’s Syrian refugee community.

The community that is served by this project is only one aspect of the IMPACT of the project. The program bridges cultures: Syrian, Turkish, and Kurdish. In a society where Kurdish people are discriminated against, this program serves to form a bridge of understanding. Moreover, the school is eager to continue the program into the future as long as there is a need.—To Lemon Hill, IMPACT Awardee, 2013


To Lemon Hill’s focus on their educational partnership with Gelisim Koleji not only created a sustainable education program for the undocumented Syrian children, but also builds relationships between the Turkish and Syrian community in Limon Tepe. To Lemon Hill interviewed 50 Syrian families while in Turkey and heard about the challenges and dilemmas of their journeys, To Lemon Hill collaborated with Gelisim Koleji, a local high school, to provide mentoring and tutoring support for the undocumented Syrian children (ages 7 to 14). To Lemon Hill’s project was even integrated into Gelisim Koleji’s curriculum requirements as it aligned with the school’s emphasis on volunteer service and helping the larger community. To Lemon Hill continues to speak with Gelisim Koleji and the Syrian community in Limon Tepe to ensure the continued success of their mentorship/ tutoring program.




Protesting the high crime rates against LGBTQ Jamaicans, STAND UP shared personal and community narratives via social media of Jamaicans who fled their island nation. 

Project Overview

STAND UP uses the unique characteristics of social media to create an active network between the LGBTQ community from Jamaica, the most homophobic country in the western hemisphere, and their allies through testimonial/solidarity videos.

In spite of the socio-political oppression and threat of physical violence, it was the first international campaign to create an active community for LGBTQ rights in Jamaica.

STAND UP partnered with the Caribbean Vulnerable Communities Coalition (CVC) and its underground counterpart, the Jamaica Forum for Lesbians, All-Sexuals & Gays (JFLAG) to counter homophobia with community building, storytelling, and safe visibility.

STAND UP was an incredibly powerful experience, being able to meet and share the stories of dozens of brave people, putting themselves on the line to be able to love who they choose, was amazing. If I had been told that I would have done something as large as this, at the beginning of the summer, I would not have believed it.” – Robert Gomez Hernandez (MFA/MA, Film/Visual and Critical Studies)

Project STAND UP worked with a Jamaican team on video techniques that maintained anonymity and to create “safe visibility” for participants. Team STAND UP built upon the We Are Jamaicans Project featuring videos of LGBTQ Jamaicans and prominent community leaders/allies in and out of Jamaica and used their project website as a platform for exponential growth that synched with a YouTube channel, Facebook page, Instagram, and Twitter accounts.


STAND UP’s videos shared personal narratives of LGBTQ Jamaicans and their allies from three different countries and started a social movement that continued on past their time in Jamaica.

Prior to traveling to Jamaica, STAND UP launched an IndieGoGo campaign to extend the life cycle of their project, their fundraising goal was shared by GLAAD, the Huffington Post, CIMA, and other news outlets to support their campaign.

Although they initially envisioned gather 10-15 interviews while in Jamaica, Team STAND UP interviewed 60 participants for their testimonial and solidarity videos that were shared at a final premiere.