Design for Human Health Director Wins Award

Dak Kopec, director of Design for Human Health, wins the IDEC Community Service Award

Dak Kopec wins IDEC Community Service Award

Dak Kopec, PhD, director of Design for Human Health at The Boston Architectural College (BAC), was recently awarded the Community Service Award at the 2017 Annual IDEC Conference in Chicago. The IDEC (Interior Design Educators Council) Community Service Award honors an individual or group's significant contribution of community service associated with interior design on a local, regional, or national level.

Crandon Gustafson, dean of the BAC's School of Interior Architecture, nominated Dak for his Bay Cove Human Services project, saying he "truly embodies community service based design, and his work with students and this CBO (community based organization) epitomizes the meaning and intentions of the community service award."

Bay Cove Human Services is a nonprofit CBO that serves the mental health needs of low-income people throughout the Boston metropolitan area. The residents of this group home are senior citizens who have lived their entire lives with differing levels of cognitive disabilities.

Dak, along with BAC students Janet Roche, Nadia Sophia, and Adrienne Jones, met with Bay Cove officials and residents to learn more about the issues impacting the residents and how these issues also affected Bay Cove's neighbors. The goal was to make improvements to interior spaces that would support a safe environment for Bay Cove residents while also improving quality of life conditions for the neighbors. After studying daily life in the Bay Cove home, Dak and his team designed and implemented several thoughtful, low-cost enhancements that have provided significant improvement to the residents, neighbors, and Bay Cove staff.

"As an educator, Dak is simply inspirational," said Crandon. "I have seen him motivate students around issues of human health and well-being many times. This award is the fruit of his efforts to turn this motivation into a benefit for low-income people throughout the Boston metropolitan area."

Dak said he is honored to have his work recognized by the IDEC Community Service Award, citing the importance of designing spaces to promote, benefit, and improve human health.

"Oftentimes people confuse the word healthcare to be synonymous with the design of hospitals," said Dak. "The (BAC's) Design for Human Health program is based on health as a concept that can be applied to an assortment of environments. So for me, the award helps to show that the concept of health needs to be a specialization that architects, interior architects, and landscape architects can specialize within, because there are many biological and psychological factors that have to be considered as part of a design process when the target population has unique concerns."

Dak is an architectural psychologist, specializing in the design of spaces for populations that have specific issues of concern that must be addressed in the design of the built environment. He has degrees in health science, psychology, and architecture, and holds certifications from the National Commission for Health Education credentialing and the Environmental Health Association. Among Dak's more notable achievements are a two-year appointment by the Governor of Hawaii to the Health and Planning Council, serving two terms as a Fulbright Reviewer, and publishing five books related to health, psychology, and design.