Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Fine Arts



First Advisor

Roberto Ventura

Second Advisor

Christiana Lafazani

Third Advisor

Rab McClure

Fourth Advisor

Camden Whitehead


Making up one quarter of the current United States population, some 80 million Generation Y-ers are changing the ways in which we live, work and play. Dubbed “Millennials” this population is comprised of those individuals born between 1980 and 2000. This generation is the first to have been raised with cell phones, the internet, and reality television. The “Selfie” or “Me Generation” is snubbed for narcissism and an instant gratification attitude. Yet on the whole Millennials have progressive values, are well educated, are conscious of their health and are optimistic about the future despite coming of age during the Great Recession.

Millennials are also the most diverse, most informed and most well connected generation the United States has ever seen.They are supporters of the locavore movement and conscious of the environment. Their habits and tastes - constant Facebook status updates and Instagram posts - are much more communal in nature than narcissistic, the highest value of which is not “self-promotion, but it’s opposite, empathy -- an open-minded and hearted connection to others.” In this way Millennials are using social media and technology to build community in a new way - virtually.

Before there was Facebook or Instagram, people found community in “third places” - social places independent of work or home in which to fraternize and build relationships. In his book, The Great Good Place, Ray Oldenburg examines the difference between the sociological functions of first place (the home), second place (the workplace) and third place. Third place can be described as the social place, a place independent of the home and workplace in which to fraternize and build community. Oldenburg argued that these places are in general decline, and more recent articles have noted that those brick and mortar third places are now being “hollowed out” by “cyber nomads”, those people in coffee shops and bookstores listening to headphones, typing away on a computer or talking on the phone. James Katz of Rutgers argues that these “physically inhabited by psychologically evacuated” places leave people feeling “more isolated than they would if the cafe were empty.”

How do designers create spaces that support Millennials empathetic desire connection, that encourage interaction and that overcome the obstacle of becoming "psychologically evacuated" places?


© The Author

Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission