"Designing for Health" is a monthly, Web-exclusive series from healthcare interior design leaders at Perkins+Will that focuses on the issues, trends, challenges, and research involved in crafting today's healing environment.
If we are curious, we will seek. If we seek, we will discover.
What exactly constitutes “research” for design practices? Why is it important? How is it relevant? How is it applied to the work we do? These are the questions that currently are asked by many within the design community.
Research is a systematic investigation into existing knowledge in order to discover or revise facts or add to knowledge about a certain topic. In design, we take an existing condition and improve upon it with our design solutions. During the design process, we constantly gather and evaluate information from different sources and apply it in novel ways to solve our design problems, thus creating new information and knowledge. Perkins+Will engages in these following areas of research:
• Market-sector related knowledge management
• Sustainable design
• Strategies for operational efficiency
• Advanced building technologies and building performance
• Design process benchmarking
• Carbon and energy analysis
• Organizational behavior.
Perkins+Will Research Journal documents research relating to all aspects of the architectural and design practice. Architectural design requires immense amounts of information for inspiration, creation, and construction of buildings. Considerations for sustainability, innovation, and high-performance designs lead the way of our practice, where research is an integral part of the process. The themes included in our journal illustrate types of projects and inquiries undertaken at Perkins+Will and capture research questions, methodologies, and results of these inquiries.
An important part of the research is systematic documentation and communication of research processes and results. Therefore, we have created this publication in 2009 as a way to document these processes and results. Initially, it was aimed to be an internal electronic publication to serve our global practice and to disseminate research results to our twenty three offices. But it proved to be a valuable resource to be shared with larger design community, our clients, collaborators, other researchers, and academic organizations. Currently, it is published as a hard copy journal, with a distribution of 500 to 600 copies per issue.
Perkins+Will Research Journal is published two times a year, and all research articles go through a rigorous peer-review process prior to publication. Articles are reviewed by internal and external reviewers, depending on the subject matter and area of investigation. Original research articles, case studies, technical articles and guidelines are typically incorporated into this publication.
The value and significance of this publication is that practice-oriented research is documented and shared within our global practice and the larger design community. Scott Murray, assistant professor, School of Architecture, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, says he is impressed with the journal. “Architectural research is inevitably a key component of the work of a large office, such as Perkins+Will, where multiple interdisciplinary teams are working simultaneously on diverse programs in various geographic and climatic contexts,” Murray states. “It is unfortunate when such project-based research is not disseminated beyond the team once a project is finished. The strength of the Perkins+Will Research Journal is in its ability to capture the processes and outcomes of such practice-based research, to make them available for further study and critique, and to allow them to inform future research and design.”
Another unique aspect of this research journal is that it is practice-oriented, either originating from our projects or specific inquiries undertaken to innovate, discover new trends and enhance design processes. “Practical applicability is a must-have attribute of any architectural-design-related research project. The P+W Research Journal provides some of the best examples of architectural research, directly applicable to or integrated with P+W’s design projects” says Dr. Kyoung Sun Moon, assistant professor, School of Architecture, Yale University. “I believe this journal will substantially contribute to constructing higher quality built environments.”
Four issues have been published to date, and electronic copies are available at http://www.perkinswill.com/purpose/innovation.html. Every issue includes five to seven articles that focus on diverse research topics, such as context-based design of double skin walls, collaborative approaches to innovation in healthcare, studies for achieving carbon neutrality, design of complex curtain wall systems, computational design in architecture, and methods for improving design decision-making through simulations and modeling of building performance.
For example, “Context Based Design of Double Skin Facades: Climatic Considerations During the Design Process” article focuses on different design options for double skin facades and their energy performance, investigating design strategies for hot and arid, and cold climates. “A Study for Carbon Neutrality: The Impact of Decisions, Design and Energy” discuses design factors that influence carbon footprint of a residence hall building, particularly focusing on the steps and considerations required to achieve carbon neutrality. And “Automating Practice: Defining Use of Computation in the Architectural Design Workflow” discusses computation in architecture, as it relates to algorithmic/generative architectural design.
With this publication, we share new generation of ideas, our research processes and our discoveries.
Below are links to past issues:
• 2009 VOL 01.01:
o “Building Commissioning Strategies, Criteria and Applications” (by Ajla Aksamija)
o “Healthcare Think Tank: A Collaborative Approach to Innovation” (by Kalpana Kuttaiah, Jim Bynum and Robin Guenther
o “Choosing the Right Green Building Rating System” (by Michael Driedger)
o “Quantifiable Benefits of Access to Nature in Buildings” (by Michelle Halle Stern, Tom Mozina and Gail Brothwick)
o “Context-Based Design of Double Skin Facades” (by Ajla Aksamija)
o “Mountain Pine Beetle” (by Chessa Adsit-Morris)
o “Water, Water… Not Everywhere” (by Breeze Glazer)
• 2009 VOL 01.02:
o “A Study for Carbon Neutrality: The Impact of Decisions, Design and Energy” (by Dana Anderson, Patrick Cunningham, David Damon, and Yanel de Angel)
o “Systems Thinking: Seven Reasons Why It Is Good For You and Everything Else” (by Nandita Vyas and Nat Slaughter)
o “Automating Practice: Defining Use of Computation in the Architectural Design Workflow” (by Michael Hodge)
o “Clinical Processes Informing the Design of the Emergency Department” (by Richard Herring and Marvina Williams)
o “Transcending Project Type: Principles for High Performance Interior Design” (by Joan Blumenfeld. Carolyn BaRoss and Sonya Dufner)
• 2010 VOL 02.01:
o “Cell Wall: Resolving Geometrical Complexities in the Shanghai Nature Museum Iconic Wall” (by Marius Ronnett and Abul Abdullah)
o “The Effect of Heat Flow and Moisture on the Exterior Enclosure” (by Charles Sejud and Jean-Claude Lesaca)
o “Hygroscopic Climatic Modulated Boundaries” (by Marionyt Tyrone Marshall)
o “Comparative Analysis of Flooring Materials: Environmental and Economic Performance” (by Ajla Aksamija)
o “Urban Wastewater: A Renewable, Reliable Water Resource for Urban Farming” (by Geeti Silwal)
• 2010 VOL 02.02:
o “Building Performance Predictions: How Simulations Can Improve Design Decisions” (by Ajla Aksamija and Zaki Mallasi)
o “Exploration of Complex Curtain Wall Solutions: Shanghai Fisherman’s Wharf Iconic Tower” (by Abul Abdullah and Marius Ronnett)
o “Students of Today and Tomorrow: Discovering How and Where They Learn” (by John Poelker)
o “Energy Modeling Guidance: Guidelines for Energy Analysis Integration into an Architectural Environment” (by Blair McCarry and Lilah Montague)
o “Design Considerations for Pool Environments” (by Philip O’Sullivan and Phil Fenech).
Ajla Aksamija, Ph.D., LEED AP BD+C, CDT, building technology researcher, leads Tech Lab, an ongoing research program of the Perkins+Will Excellence in Execution Initiative. Her research focuses on building science and sustainability, emerging building technologies, digital design and representation. She monitors the latest developments in building systems, materials, technology, and conducts original research studies. She can be reached at email@example.com.
Kalpana Kuttaiah, associate AIA, LEED AP BD+C, research knowledge manager, is a senior associate at Perkins+Will. She is the firm's healthcare research manager and has a strong knowledge base that is rooted in innovation and sustainable discourse. She leads the firm's research efforts relating to healthcare practice and focuses on tracking the performance of healthcare facilities that incorporate new innovative design elements on both operational efficiency and the delivery of patient care. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Past installments of "Designing for Health" include (click on title to access the full article):
• The Role of Designers in Helping with Infection Control in Hospital Environments
• The Unexpected Oasis—A medically, spiritually, and emotionally caring environment
• Integrating Research into the Design Process
• Altruism in the Profession—The Implementation of Social Responsibility
• How Green is Your Furniture
• Workspaces for Well-being