This fall, our research on occupant behavior and building design made the news. In 2013, after conducting spatial survey research that explored the relationship between occupant behavior and urban park design, we began working with Dr. Bon Ku, the Assistant Dean for Health and Design and Director of JeffDESIGN at Thomas Jefferson University, to determine if this type of analysis could also be applied to the field of healthcare. In September, our resulting collaborative research was covered by the Philadelphia Inquirer. “People ask me: ‘Are you just trying to make the E.R. look prettier or polished, with the walls a more soothing color?'” Dr. Ku told the paper. “No. You can design spaces to change the behaviors of people.”
Together with a team of Dr. Ku's doctors, nurses, medical students, and hospital administrators, we used spatial analytics to investigate how workspace layout affects communication and team interaction amongst nurses and doctors in the ER department. The primary goal of our research was to uncover opportunities to introduce design thinking and innovation to emergency departments.
In designing a 10,000-square-foot addition for Pendleton West, Wellesley College's art and music facility, we wanted to highlight and reflect the building's idyllic woodland site by creating a facade that mimics the pattern and texture of tree bark. We selected board-formed concrete as the primary building material for the addition, a process that imprints the grain and texture of the wood casting forms onto the concrete. “With a lot of concrete, you can't tell how it's made,” said Tim Peters, the Associate in Charge of the project. “With board-formed concrete, the memory of the wood used in the casting remains in the finished product. That was important for this building, since we wanted it to feel more like a tree than a building, but we also wanted to reference some of the stone that's prevalent throughout Wellesley's campus.”
How will wood age over time? What might it look like in six months, a year, or even 80 years after construction? We confronted these questions while designing new residence halls for the University of Washington. During design, we developed a concept for a cedar rainscreen that complements the buildings' brick and concrete facades, pays homage to the Pacific Northwest, and remains beautiful in its unfinished state. But, before featuring this material on 215,000 square feet of building envelope, we wanted to be sure that untreated, lower-maintenance wood could weather artfully in Seattle's damp climate. “Wood ages very visibly,” researcher Efrie Escott noted. “It can turn silver and become even more beautiful over time, or it can blacken and warp.”
To better understand how the cedar rainscreen would change over time, KieranTimberlake developed a predictive modeling script that visualizes how wood ages in various locations. To do this, we gathered peer-reviewed research from laboratory weathering experiments and compiled the findings in a script that accounts for two principal factors influencing wood weathering: solar exposure and exposure to wind-driven rain. The first version of our Predictive Wood Weathering Tool included only those two variables because other factors, such as climate and airflow, were already accounted for. “There were some simplifications and assumptions that we were able to make because we knew the specific climate we were building in,” Escott said. “For example, we knew the rainscreen's exterior was likely to be saturated each day because we were building in a climate that reaches dew point every day.”