Date of Award

Spring 6-6-2022

Document Type


Degree Name

Master in Interior Architecture [Adaptive Reuse]


Interior Architecture

First Advisor

Markus Berger

Second Advisor

Yaminay Chaudhri

Third Advisor

Eduardo Benamor Duarte


The self-creation of Black spaces in America has been a form of resistance and reclamation, as well as a way to forge an identity and make room for community. This thesis argues for a use of improvisational African American music as a tool to create space. Additionally, through research and a design intervention, this thesis seeks to demonstrate how spatial creation within the framework of music and musical improvisation work as ways to expand, solidify and celebrate identity within Black and African- identifying people in America.

Fluid and improvisational techniques found in Black musical styles and genres such as jazz set the foundation for this thesis, which readapts into a contemporary setting the site of a historic jazz bar in West Philadelphia, Pennsylvania formerly called the Aqua Lounge. Restoration and adaptation are employed as intervention strategies within the site, which is currently used as a retail shop called the African Cultural Art Forum (ACAF). Portions of the site’s cultural heritage will survive as it programmatically becomes a space informed by and for music, with improvisation employed as a design strategy to create flexible architectural frameworks. The design intervention uses overlapping programs to create spaces that create a dialogue within the interior of the building and also between the interior and exterior of the site. Doors are rehinged to also work as seating, new floors are inserted within the building to create “micro floors” for recording studios and the existing first, second and third floors become retail, archival and performance spaces that harken back to programs that have existed within this site over time. Reworking functions of architectural programs and existing materials creates an adaptable space open to new interpretation to the future users.

Noise, sound and rhythm inspire fluid and less rigid architecture, creating spaces that support the people and communities who contribute to Black cultural expression. Philadelphia is known as “The City of Murals” and in support of themes within this thesis the site will benefit from keeping its existing mural intact on the site. The Aqua Lounge jazz bar is considered the foundational palimpsest layer, and the expression of jazz as improvisational leads to new forms of unplanned expressions within the site. Through an architectural design the aim is to loosely design these programs in a way that can be re-written by future users of this site.



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.