Jo Ramsay Leimenstoll
Professor and Director of Graduate Study
102 Gatewood Studio Arts Building
Our Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Interior Architecture offers students a venue for advanced investigations of the built environment in close collaboration with faculty mentors. Students pursuing an MFA in Interior Architecture develop their own intellectual interests in design while preparing for careers in teaching, research, or specialized practice.
Our program offers distinctly strong student-faculty relationships, where students work closely with faculty members to gain expertise. The Department of Interior Architecture supports a broad range of student interests. Everything we do is anchored on our values of promoting sustainable design for social, psychological, and ecological well-being. We offer particular strengths in historic preservation, interior product design, community-engaged design, and human-environment relationships.
Students who study Historic Preservation in our program build upon their design background as they expand their understanding of the theory and practice of preservation. Beyond the common core courses and electives, MFA students explore more specialized preservation issues in their self-directed graduate design studios, their thesis, and as Main Street Fellows. Recent theses in this specialization cover a variety of topics ranging from the adaptive use of industrial mills to the sensitive rehabilitation of historic schools to the revitalization of inner-city neighborhoods. We additionally offer a 15-hour Post-baccalaureate Certificate in Historic Preservation that may be earned in tandem with the MFA or pursued as a stand-alone certificate by those seeking to gain additional expertise in the field.
Students interested in interior product design focus on artistic development through the production of innovative interior products, including furniture, lighting, fixtures, textiles, furnishings, and cabinetry. Work ranges from experimental, one-of-a-kind, limited production to mass produced products that support human aesthetic and functional needs in an interior environment. Our departmental woodshop, softlab, and Computer-Aided Making (CAM) facilities support iterative design processes for a variety of digital and analog fabrication techniques.
Our faculty additionally offer strengths in research conducted in social settings, such as hospitals, schools, and beyond, to better understand human-environment relationships. We are interested in the ways that humans both shape and are shaped by our physical and natural environments. Recent theses in this topic area have investigated pediatric unit layouts to reduce nurse fatigue, place attachment in historic settings, and natural design elements for dementia care.
Our newly formed Center for Community-Engaged Design is the ideal home for students with research interests in Public-Interest Design. Our center is engaged with a multitude of projects – from permaculture gardens in distressed communities to tiny homes to end homelessness, the list goes on. Graduate students with this interest can seek fellowships with the CC-ED and engage with community partners while advancing MFA thesis work.
Students interested in one or more of these areas are especially well matched with our program. For more information on our faculty, see here. Past student theses are also available here. Please contact us to start a conversation!