i + D - September/October 2020 - 37

Take Refuge - By Brian J. Barth

Design Equity
Kia Weatherspoon, founder of the Washington, D.C.,
firm Determined by Design, offers her perspective on
the topic. "I think it's a disservice to constantly label
these types of things, where socioeconomic descriptors
and identifiers dictate how a space is designed. Every
space should be serene and healing and beautiful. It
doesn't matter if the person is homeless or not-design
a great space." Weatherspoon calls her approach
"design equity."
With 90 percent of her work coming from affordable
housing projects, she's not naïve to the reality of
budgetary constraints. Remarkably, her designs have
a high-end look. For Weatherspoon, it's a matter of
applying creativity, not just with the design but also
with the bottom line. For example, she suggests cutting
costs through bulk purchases as much as possible.
"I can finagle elevated floor tile in a lobby if I have
200-plus units with two bathrooms and a backsplash
that I'm giving to that same tile vendor."

Weatherspoon believes the sub-par design found in many shelters and
affordable housing developments stems not from a lack of how to design
them so much as a lack of will. And in her view, the lack of will often comes
from a lack of sympathetic designers. Weatherspoon, on the other hand,
lives in the D.C. community where the majority of her work happens. Most
days, she walks or rides a bike to the job site. "How can we advocate for
better design," she posits, "if the members of the design team can't identify
with the people who live in those communities?"

At Archer Park, an affordable housing development in Washington, D.C., designer Kia Weatherspoon
was inspired by the work of the development's namesake, Romulus C. Archer Jr., the second African
American architect licensed in the nation's capital.
(Image: Courtesy of Determined by Design)

Weatherspoon also works with the communities
themselves to draw out a design narrative that tells
their story-she believes the sense of ownership
among the inhabitants that results trumps any other
considerations. And she lets the design concepts flow
from there. At Momentum at Shady Grove, an affordable
housing development in Rockville, Maryland, a narrative
emerged around the African American community's
history with blacksmithing and the railroad industry,
which translated into an abstract design motif inspired
by the angles of iron and tracks. Another of her projects,
Archer Park, an affordable housing development in
Washington, D.C.'s Congress Heights neighborhood took
its design cues from the work of its namesake, Romulus
C. Archer Jr., the second African American architect
licensed in the nation's capital.

An abstract design motif that speaks to the African American community's
history with blacksmithing and the railroad industry makes a meaningful
connection at Momentum at Shady Grove, an affordable housing
development designed by Kia Weatherspoon in Rockville, Maryland.
(Image: Courtesy of Determined by Design)

37



i + D - September/October 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of i + D - September/October 2020

Contents
i + D - September/October 2020 - Cover1
i + D - September/October 2020 - Cover2
i + D - September/October 2020 - 3
i + D - September/October 2020 - 4
i + D - September/October 2020 - 5
i + D - September/October 2020 - Contents
i + D - September/October 2020 - 7
i + D - September/October 2020 - 8
i + D - September/October 2020 - 9
i + D - September/October 2020 - 10
i + D - September/October 2020 - 11
i + D - September/October 2020 - 12
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i + D - September/October 2020 - Cover3
i + D - September/October 2020 - Cover4
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/id/20210102
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/id/20201112_french
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/id/20201112
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/id/20200910_french
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/id/20200910
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/asid/design_product_guide
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https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/id/20191112_french
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/id/20190910
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/id/20190910_french
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/id/20190708
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/id/20190708_french
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https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/id/20190304_french
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/id/20190102
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https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/id/20181112
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/id/20181112_french
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/id/20180910
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/id/20180910_french
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/id/20180708
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/id/20180708_french
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/id/20180506
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/id/20180506_french
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/id/20180304
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/id/20180304_french
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/id/20180102_french
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