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    Philadelphia University: Forming Alliances With Industry Partners

    Lauren Baumbach, director of the Interior Design Program at Philadelphia University, developed a studio project based on the integrated practice model, in which interior designers work with allied disciplines and industry and community partners throughout the design process. The project received the 2012 Council for Interior Design Accreditation Innovation in Interior Design Education Merit Award, given for innovative teaching and excellence in interior design education. 

    One course, "Design 6 for Interior Design" worked for TD Bank and included a schematic design phase for the real client and a competition between the student teams. “By bringing the multiple stakeholders to the table from the beginning of the project to the end, the students are better suited to identify, strategize and solve real-world design problems,” says Baumbach.

    Baumbach's students learn the importance of bringing expertise and knowledge areas from different disciplines together early in the design process. It also helps students learn to navigate the complexities of real-world practice, she explains."It keeps them nimble and open to changing partnerships and work conditions, a necessary trait in today's evolving global marketplace,” says Baumbach.

    Other related courses include "Design 4 for Interior Design" in which teams of interior design and occupational therapy students design for a client in an inner city Philadelphia neighborhood. Recently it was the Senior/Child Mentoring Center. “Not only did interior design students learn about these limitations from occupational therapy students and the labs," says Baumbach, "but the occupational therapy students learned how interior designers can improve the cognitive and physical lives of occupants,”

    The school also recently added "Integrated Community Service" to their offerings. Sustainability is a focus in every course; in this one students work with a non-profit community partner in need of interior design services.

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