Kristin Dispenza

Kristin Dispenza

Kristin graduated from The Ohio State University in 1988 with a B.S. in architecture and a minor in English literature. Afterward, she moved to Seattle, Washington, and began to work as a freelance design journalist, having regular assignments with Seattle’s Daily Journal of Commerce.

After returning to Ohio in 1995, her freelance activities expanded to include writing for trade publications and websites, as well as other forms of electronic media. In 2011, Kristin became the managing editor for

Kristin has been a features writer for since January 2010. Some of her articles include:

Universal Design Living Laboratory

Mon, Oct 25, 2010

After a bicycle accident left her paralyzed 12 years ago, Rosemarie Rossetti realized that the two-story home she shared with her husband, Mark Leder, would never be able to fully accommodate her needs. Rossetti and Leder began to look into design options for a new home, and soon their personal project evolved into a mission to research, design, and build a home that would serve as an educational resource for the building industry as well as for consumers. The product of their campaign is the Universal Design Living Laboratory (UDLL), a National Demonstration Home in Columbus, Ohio, that seeks to incorporate three different design movements: universal design, green building (targeting LEED for Homes certification), and healthful, chemical-free products.

Understanding Universal Design

Mon, Oct 18, 2010

The word “disability” isn’t mentioned much by designers and other professionals who employ the principles of universal design; at the heart of this design concept is a more positive message. Universal design refers to the idea that environments and products should be usable by everyone. Ronald L. Mace coined the term and founded The Center for Universal Design at North Carolina State University in 1989, using a grant from the U.S. Department of Education. Since that time the center has continued to research and develop design approaches that will make the built environment more accessible to everyone.

Foreign Office Architects’ MOCA Cleveland

Thu, Sep 30, 2010

Recently unveiled are plans for a new building to house the Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland (MOCA Cleveland). London-based Foreign Office Architects (FOA) is the design firm for the project, and Westlake Reed Leskosky acted as the architect of record. Currently the museum is tucked away on the second story of the Cleveland Play House complex; the new facility will give MOCA Cleveland 44% more space as well as a commanding presence at a prominent intersection in University Circle.

LEED Third Party Verification: Project Certification and Professional Credentials

Tue, Sep 21, 2010

Third-party verification, the basic concept at the heart of the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program, is both its greatest strength and its greatest burden. The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) has long struggled to establish a practical system in which a series of independent verifiers work seamlessly together to achieve building certification.

State of LEED

Tue, Sep 14, 2010

The U.S. Green Building Council’s (USGBC's) Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program is the nation’s leading standards-based green building program. In 2009 the USGBC released its most recent version of the rating system and embarked upon its latest stage of development.

Seattle’s Bertschi School Participates in Living Building Challenge

Tue, Sep 07, 2010

The Bertschi School, an independent elementary school in Seattle, Washington, has a history of emphasizing sustainability. In 2007, it was the first school in the state to have an elementary classroom building awarded LEED Gold certification. Now, with a new 1,425 sq. ft. science classroom scheduled for completion in November, the school is attempting to comply with an even more stringent green building rating system, the Cascadia Region Green Building Council’s Living Building Challenge.

Talking with Sarah Nettleton About Building a Simple Home

Tue, Jun 01, 2010

Architect Sarah Nettleton’s keynote speech, presented at Inside Out: Transforming the Built Environment, posed the question, "How do you want to be in your building?" Answering this question can help us develop a more focused and deliberate approach to building. The process of considering how we experience our built environment not only informs us as to what to include in a design, but shows us how to eliminate the extraneous features which contemporary buildings -- especially houses -- have taken on. In 2007, Nettleton authored the book The Simple Home: The Luxury of Enough, published by The Taunton Press, which examines 21 different homes located throughout the country and explores the topic of building simply.

Economic Transformation in Rural Communities

Mon, May 10, 2010

As promised in my In Studio blog, Building in the Midwest: Where Do We Go From Here?, the topics discussed at the Inside Out: Transforming the Built Environment symposium offered insights into small town economic and architectural development that can be put into practice throughout the Midwest. In fact, some of the revitalization efforts that have taken place in South Dakota have earned national attention.

Spring Lawn Care

Mon, Mar 26, 2012

Find out how to optimize your lawn's potential with these tips on fertilizing, going organic, and more.

The sun is shining, the grass is growing, and you're ready to go outside and invest a few weekend hours in making your lawn more beautiful. However, conventional wisdom about spring lawn care may not tell the whole story. In fact, the pervasive notion that spring is the ideal season to begin lawn maintenance may have more to do with your own mood than it does with the growing cycle. What practical steps can you take right now, while you’re feeling inspired, to improve your lawn’s appearance?

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