David Chapin

David Chapin faculty

Research Interests

  • Video in Field Research
  • Design as a Mediator of People's Interaction with Place

David Chapin is an architect and professor of environmental psychology, where he regularly conducts the seminars “Architecture: Placing Desire” and “The Visual in Field Research.” His interest in environmental psychology stems from his dissatisfaction with conventional architectural practice and its failure to consider people with disabilities and different needs.
Chapin has done many video research projects, including “Stretch Excites Learning” with Project Stretch and “The Living Salk Institute,” in which he worked with Zeynep Turan to study people’s relationships with Louis Kahn’s well-known monument of modern architecture and how they make meaning there. He is a videographer and video editor with the Collaborative Seeing Studio, which developed from the ethnographic project Children Framing Childhood. 
During the 1970s and early 1980s he was part of the ARC Group in Cleveland funded by the Ohio Department of Mental Health, working in many different “treatment” settings to design, build, and evaluate changes to institutional environments. The group also worked on a series of projects involving children and participation and created the permanent exhibit “Bridges, Over and Under” at the Cleveland Children’s Museum. After coming to the Graduate Center in 1986, he was inspired by Louis Sackman to research the history of U.S. public housing and the threat it posed to the private housing market, which ultimately contributed to its decline.
Chapin is also associated with the The Center for Human Environments. He received a B.Arch. from Western Reserve University and an M.Arch. from the University of California–Berkeley.