Seyeon Lee is an assistant professor in the School of Design. Prior to joining Syracuse University, Lee taught foundation design studios at the Texas A&M University School of Architecture. Before entering academia, she worked as an architectural and interior designer and project manager in the offices of Clifford Planning and Architecture (Hawaii) and MG2 (Seattle) for over 14 years. Lee’s professional portfolio includes residential, commercial, retail, hospitality, and urban planning projects in the United States, South Korea, Japan, and Taiwan. She is an NCIDQ certified interior designer and a LEED Accredited Professional.
In 2018, Seyeon Lee was invited by CenterState CEO, an economic development organization in Syracuse, to help design a women’s wellness center on the North Side of the city. The Northside Women’s Wellness Center, which is run by the Central New York YMCA, opened in the fall of 2020 as “a welcoming and accessible space in the heart of the North Side, where women from all socio-economic backgrounds, ages, and ethnicities can purse wellness,” according to the center’s website.
That was the goal, but is that the reality? Is the center being utilized as intended, and if not, what else can be done to maximize its use? And what lessons from that building can be applied to other spaces in the city that are available to residents but not necessarily accessible?
Those are the questions that will be asked and answered by Lee and a group of students who will be selected to participate in the 2021-23 Lender Center for Social Justice Student Fellowship.
“The core idea of this is, how can we use this space as a hub and connect it with other parts of the community?” says Lee, who is also the George Miller Quasi Endowed Professor in the School of Design. “There is a ton of community space that is underutilized, a lot of pockets of opportunities that are lost, and that’s where I would look to engage with the students with their different perspectives and backgrounds.”
“As I was proceeding with this project, I came about a lot of areas that I didn’t know about–a lot of social issues, a lot of political issues, a lot of about social justice and equity issues that are all wrapped in this topic,” Lee says. “The Lender Fellowship allows me to explore social equity and access from a design standpoint and engage students through participatory learning so they really understand what’s happening in our backyard.”
Lee holds a bachelor’s in environmental design, a master’s of architecture from Montana State University, and a Ph.D. in architecture from Texas A&M University. Her Ph.D. research focused on developing instructional strategies to improve and strengthen design education with learning objectives that include cost as an integral design determinant. Her research interests engage community architecture with an emphasis on sustainable and affordable architectural design and planning with a special focus on housing affordability.