Preventing Youth Incarceration:
This paper presents an undergraduate design studio as a site for research. In discussing the validity of design research, Groat and Wang point out that Ellison and Eatman (2008) define public scholarship as a form of socially engaged research (2013:51). This paper posits that design is often a form of exploratory research or hypothesis-seeking. Although this project is socially engaged, considering design research as exploratory opens the door to a broader group of projects. Business researcher Dudovskiy defines exploratory research as investigations that explore the nature of a question without requiring conclusive results. He points out that “the researcher ought to be willing to change his/her direction as a result of revelation of new data and new insights.” (2018). Here we argue that when an architectural design studio involves research to analyze and develop evidence (including literature searches, site visits, input by experts and engagement of community members), as well as rigorous investigation of design hypotheses (evaluation of alternative designs, documentation of architectural characteristics, generation of evaluation criteria, and rigorous assessment of options), the design studio becomes a site of research scholarship that informs design. The design studio presented here originally focused on reconceiving youth rehabilitation, but was reframed as preventing youth incarceration. The diverse final project proposals explore the general hypothesis that providing appropriate youth and family services in the community may contribute to the prevention of juvenile incarceration.