Narrative Box 6

4. Make sure “ordinary” applies to everyone. What may seem expected and ordinary to the mainstream is not so for excluded people, whether it’s an easy and convenient way to enter a building, a chair that fits your body, or enough variety of settings to meet the needs of neurodiverse people. Location speaks loudly – think carefully about the arrangement of spaces and what it communicates, for example “back entrances” for people with mobility challenges. Spend time and design energy on things that people generally pass over or deem unimportant or code-driven.

5. Look for opportunities for flexibility.  Use design to give users more power by providing a light sense of infrastructure that gives people the chance to use the space the way they want to. In 2023, Boston University asked Jones to renovate a 3,000 square foot space to become an LGBTQIA+ resource center.  The project came up in April, and needed to open in time for fall quarter — September. BU had yet to hire a director for the center and the team had little context to work from. We did some peer benchmarking and also brought the project to the Jones EDIB(J) council.  The council recommended that BU build in the potential for visual and acoustic privacy when desired and to “empower the community by making the space flexible. Encourage them to rearrange the space to meet their needs over time – either on the fly or week-to-week.” Jones developed a list of over a dozen potential use cases and then came up with furniture layouts for several of those. We kept the materials neutral and gave the future users to build an identity of their own into the space.