Honors Program


Document Type


Date of this Version

Spring 3-14-2021


Engelhard, A. 2021. Native. A Look into Interior Design's Impact in Rural Communities. Undergraduate Honors Thesis. University of Nebraska-Lincoln.


Copyright Ashlynn Engelhard 2021.


Rural America faces a greater set of health challenges than ever before, especially when compared to its metropolitan counterparts. The Association of American Medical Colleges notes these rural disparities resulting from “economic, social, racial, ethnic, geographic, and health workforce factors.” Though somewhat daunting to consider, the AAMC concludes “We need to figure out how to use this data to target resources and interventions to make a meaningful difference in improving the health of rural America.”

Focusing on addressing rural disparities that inhibit communities from positive health and well-being, this projective design research project aims to provide a comprehensive intervention through the built environment and interior design. Some issues that may be identified and explored in this project are the lack of access to fresh foods, digital connectivity, and mental health services.

In order to address the earlier problem and question head-on, this project will take the shape of a mixed-use community center equipped with various programs, such as a market, internet cafe, and private therapy office. Locating the site in Cortland, Nebraska, a rural village roughly 25 miles south of Lincoln, allows the population to be rural while understanding the modern amenities they should have access to. The shell of this space will be a historic building on Main Street, allowing it to reinvigorate the historic downtown for greater communal connection. The impact of my design is to serve as a reminder that we must consider all populations as users, not only those in cities or with a greater median income.