Engaging the Senses for Effective Trauma-Informed Design

Room: D139-140

Audience: Educators and Architects

Call to Action: 

  1. Create an awareness of the senses to inform Trauma-Informed Design strategies.
  2. Design for all learners, experiencing varying levels and categories of trauma, the roots of which may have been abuse, race or differing physical and mental abilities.
  3. Create learning spaces that address and soothe senses, thus aiding in recovery and healing from trauma.

Abstract: The Human experience consists entirely of information conveyed to the brain by our sensing organs – touch, sight, hearing, smell, taste, spatial awareness, and balance. We perceive, understand, and process the world around us via our senses. Designing spaces that transmit healing experiences via each sense, aids in creating spaces and built environments that intentionally create feelings of safety, healing, and resilience in addition to aesthetic beauty. Healing spaces have common characteristics; however, trauma is caused by a vast diversity of sources. Trauma with abuse in myriad forms as the source may be layered over trauma caused by differing physical and mental abilities; and over trauma caused by race and gender identities. Acute, chronic, and generational trauma may be playing roles in varying degrees; and 57% of the student population experiences it first-hand, so it is imperative that it be addressed during design. Trauma-Informed Design is, therefore, designing for the senses. Recovery, healing, and resilience from trauma can be supported via the medium of the built environment by creating safety, community and belonging in the learning spaces we design.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Understand the concept of trauma, adverse experiences, and trauma-informed design.
  2. Learn about layered trauma experienced by learners with diverse physical and mental abilities.
  3. Learn about design strategies for differently abled learners.
  4. Through a discussion about perceiving space via the human senses, participants will learn techniques to develop sensibilities for trauma-informed design.
Joseph Echeverri, AIA, LEED AP BD+C
Joseph Echeverri, AIA, LEED AP BD+C
Principal, Bassetti Architects

Joe appreciates working on K-12 projects that play an important role in creating pride and instilling a sense of community. Joe is highly practiced in leading meaningful stakeholder and student engagement; he has distilled a firm wide culture that encourages collaboration, innovative design initiatives, equity in design, and client focused personalization. To support the broader A/E/C industry, Joe is deeply involved with the Association for Learning Environments for the Oregon and SW Washington chapter.

Adam Jenkins, PE, INCE Bd. Cert., CTS-D
Adam Jenkins, PE, INCE Bd. Cert., CTS-D
Vice President – Acoustical, The Greenbusch Group

Adam leads Greenbusch’s Acoustical & Audio/Video practice groups. He is experienced as an Acoustician for building and environmental acoustics and is equally proficient as an A/V Consultant. He has considerable experience developing and supervising the use of computer modeling to evaluate complex acoustical environments, provoking efficient and optimized mitigation approaches for challenging environmental noise issues. Adam’s work crosses multiple industry sectors including transit/transportation, higher education, K-12, healthcare/behavioral health, civic, justice, airport/port, industrial, and housing.

Jennifer Harris
Jennifer Harris
DeafSpace Consultant, Project Architect, Johnson Oaklief

Core Competency

Educational Visioning
Exhibits an understanding of best and next practices related to educational leadership, programming, teaching, learning, planning and facility design. Establishes credibility with educators, community members and design professionals while conceiving and leading a community-based visioning process. Demonstrates the ability to articulate the impact of learning environments on teaching and learning and uses that ability to facilitate a dialogue that uncovers the unique needs and long-range goals of an educational institution and its stakeholders – translating that into an actionable written/graphic program of requirements for the design practitioner.

LearningSCAPES 2024 Conference in Portland, Oregon


Oregon Convention Center
777 NE Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd, Portland, OR 97232


October 16-19, 2024


Email: donna@a4le.org
+1 480.391.0840