M.F.A. Thesis Project

The Saint Anna’s domestic violence shelter entry offers a safe and welcoming environment for residents. The reception desk is staffed 24/7 to ensure safety for domestic violence victims and staff. All of the images on this page were created with Revit and Photoshop.

The large shared spaces encourage community among residents. Flexible seating accommodates residents' needs. The original research emphasized the need for a large centrally located communal space for various shelter activities.

The smaller living area accommodates smaller groups and solitary activities. As referenced in the research, this location allows residents to be near the action and provides them the choice to participate without becoming overwhelmed.

A curved wall in the hallway allows residents to see into the community areas before entering. This choice to socialize can be very important for women who have experienced trauma.

Communal dining tables encourage residents to eat with other residents. The dining area is connected to the kitchen to minimize the need for rules regarding childcare while mothers prepare their meals.

The shared dining area is connected to the shared kitchen. This connection encourages community among residents who are eating and those who are cooking. The double kitchen contains two of each appliance and ample counter space to minimize conflicts in this shared space.

Resident bedrooms encourage the development of resident identities through display spaces and frames for artwork. Desks also encourage resident goal-setting and decision-making, an important part of the empowerment process.

A licensed daycare is located on the first floor of Saint Anna’s shelter. The daycare includes a classroom, play area, and this quiet area. Often children who have experienced abuse may become overwhelmed in large groups, so this quiet area encourages children to sit inside the nooks, read, and play.

The daycare’s classroom area has adjustable tables and chairs in a variety of sizes to accommodate children of various ages.

The daycare’s play area accommodates young children up to the age of twelve. The daycare also encourages residents to use the facilities after hours for homework or playtime.


This thesis project studies how the built environment of a domestic violence shelter can aid in removing excess rules and restrictions through the creation of an empowering, resident-centered environment. Saint Anna’s domestic violence shelter is located in a historic building in New Orleans, Louisiana. It contains various resident amenities as well as a community center for both residents and the women in the local community.