1st Edition

Research Methods for the Architectural Profession

By Ajla Aksamija Copyright 2021
    224 Pages 164 Color Illustrations
    by Routledge

    224 Pages 164 Color Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Research Methods for the Architectural Profession introduces research as a systematic process, describes how to formulate research questions, provides an in-depth explanation of different research methods (qualitative, quantitative, and experimental), and explains how to select appropriate research methods and execute research studies. It describes the process of documentation, knowledge dissemination, and application of research results in architectural design and practice. Most importantly, it provides guidelines for integrating research into profession and uses extensive case-studies and practice-relevant examples to illustrate main concepts, procedures, and applications.

    Integrating research into practice is essential for developing new knowledge, solving design and technical problems, overcoming different types of challenges present in the contemporary profession, and improving the design outcomes. Innovation requires a much stronger correlation between research and design, and it is pertinent for the future of architectural practice that research becomes an integral part of architectural profession. This book provides a roadmap for successfully integrating research into architectural design and for establishing innovative practices, regardless of a firm’s size.

    Written by an architecture professor with an extensive research and professional background—specifically focusing on integrating research into practice—and richly illustrated with over 150 color images, this reference will be useful for both students and practitioners.   

    1: Introduction 1.1 What is Research and How it Relates to Architectural Design? Case Study 1.1: Example of Project Specific Research, Performance Analysis for a Commercial Building Case Study 1.2: Example of Broader Research, Energy-Efficient Retrofits of Existing Commercial Buildings 1.2 Why Doing Research? 1.3 Research in Academic Contexts 1.4 Research in Professional Contexts 1.5 Chapter Summary 2: Research Process 2.1 Overview of Research Process 2.1.1 Defining Research Scope and Objectives 2.1.2 Literature Review 2.1.3 Identifying Gaps in Knowledge 2.1.4 Formulating Research Questions 2.1.5 Selecting Research Methods 2.1.6 Execution of the Research Study 2.1.7 Data Collection and Analysis 2.1.8 Conclusions and Dissemination of Research Findings 2.2 Formulation of Research Questions and Selection of Research Methods 2.2.1 Selection of Research Methods in Architectural Context 2.2.2 Preparation of a Research Proposal 2.3 Research Processes and Execution of Research Studies 2.4 Dissemination of Research Results 2.5 Application of Research Results 2.6 Chapter Summary 3: Research Methods 3.1 Overview of Research Methods 3.2 Qualitative Research Methods 3.2.1 Archival Research 3.2.2 Interviews 3.2.3 Focus Groups 3.2.4 Observations 3.2.5 Qualitative Surveys 3.2.6 Case Study Research 3.3 Quantitative Research Methods 3.3.1 Simulations and Modeling 3.3.2 Quantitative Surveys 3.3.3 Correlational Research 3.4 Experimental Research Methods 3.4.1 Prototyping 3.4.2 Testing 3.4.3 Experiments 3.5 Mixed-Mode Research Methods 3.6 Chapter Summary 4: Integration of Research in Architectural Practice 4.1 Role of Research in Innovative Practices 4.2 Organization, Research Management and Models for Integrating Research in Practice Case Study 4.1: Internal Model for Integrating Research into Practice Case Study 4.2: Collaborative Research Between Practice and Academia as External Model for Integrating Research into Profession Case Study 4.3: Non-Profit Research Entities as Hybrid Model for Integrating Research into Profession 4.3 Funding Mechanisms 4.4 Implementation of Research and Integration with Design Process Case Study 4.4: Research Conducted during the Design of Rush University Medical Center 4.5 Risk and Liability 4.6 Chapter Summary 5: Case Studies 5.1 Qualitative and Quantitative Research for a Historically Significant Building: Building Performance Analysis of a Brutalist Building 5.2 Qualitative and Quantitative Research for Adaptive Reuse: Designing for Net-Zero Energy 5.3 Quantitative Research for Building Systems: Comparative Analysis of Facade Systems and Impacts of Climate Change 5.4 Qualitative, Quantitative and Experimental Research for Design Process: Integration of Augmented and Virtual Reality with the Design 5.5 Quantitative and Experimental Research: Intelligent Facade Systems


    Ajla Akšamija, PhD, LEED AP BD+C, CDT is a faculty member in the Department of Architecture at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Her interdisciplinary research expertise includes performance-based design, building science, building enclosures, emerging building technologies, digital design, and innovations in architecture. Akšamija has authored two previously published books, Integrating Innovation in Architecture: Design, Methods and Technology for Progressive Practice and Research (2016) and Sustainable Facades: Design Methods for High-Performance Building Envelopes (2013). She has contributed to many other books and numerous research publications. As one of the pioneers of practice-based architectural research, she established the Perkins and Will Building Technology Laboratory ("Tech Lab") in 2008, one of the first practice-driven research laboratories in the architectural profession.

    The research methods book that has been missing from architectural practice has finally been written! Here is the first architectural research methods book written with the practitioner and studio student in mind. Illustrated extensively with both highly informative diagrams and illuminating case studies, Research Methods for the Architectural Profession clearly and compellingly presents research as it may interact with the design process as found in practice. This book is a must have for those in architecture and interior design who seek guidance on how to engage in meaningful and informative research in the real world and produce better designs as a result.

    – Keith Diaz Moore, Dean, College of Architecture and Planning, University of Utah

    A comprehensive guide to understanding the why, what, when, how and who needed to conduct and apply research in architectural practice. This book contains important motivations, definitions, categorizations and examples that demystify the process, and make research more broadly relevant and applicable to the profession. It should be useful to students, researchers, and professors, as well as all levels and disciplines of architecture, engineering, construction, and operations, as the industry pivots to a more objective, data-driven approach to the built environment.

    John Haymaker, PhD, AIA, Director of Research, Perkins and Will

    Research Methods for the Architectural Profession succinctly presents qualitative, quantitative, and experimental methods relevant and useful in the architectural profession, academia, and research organizations. The book refreshingly distinguishes itself by avoiding jargon and providing clear examples of various approaches in the primary subject areas in architecture: architectural history and theory, social and behavioral students, environmental, technology, building systems, economics, and design process. Readily adoptable for research methods and professional context courses and those in collaborative research practices!

    -Alison G. Kwok, PhD, LEED AP, CPHC, Professor, University of Oregon

    Aksamija’s is a unique and energetic voice bridging the architectural profession and the academy. The challenges facing humanity demand innovation on a massive scale; nowhere is this truer than with buildings and urban habitat. There has been little convergence within the profession on the role of research in architectural education and practice. Aksamija provides a broad context for consideration, but most importantly, she accurately ties the future of the architectural profession to an integration of research and practice, and conveniently lays out a roadmap for research-based architectural practice.

    -Mic Patterson, PhD, LEED AP BDC; Ambassador of Innovation & Collaboration, Façade Tectonics Institute

    In today’s world we confront unprecedented problems in environments hallmarked by escalating complexity. Architects and designers are increasingly challenged to render potent decisions in a daunting milieu, with expectations to do so with skill, evidence and efficacy. Responding to growing demands for architects to be better equipped to operate in these emerging conditions, Ajla Aksamija’s book, Research Methods for the Architectural Profession, proves timely, informative and inspiring. Written with clarity and readily accessible to a broad readership, Professor Aksamija presents us with a valuable and comprehensive array of chapters that meaningfully inform architects on research strategy, methods, integration and application."

    -Dr. Brian R. Sinclair, PhD DrHC FRAIC AIA (Intl), Professor of Architecture + Environmental Design | Former Dean, University of Calgary + President of sinclairstudio inc.