Courtesy ZGF Architects ZGF Architect's visualization of circulation through a proposed corporate campus accommodating 15,000 people was informed by many sources, including keycards and security consultants.

Courtesy ZGF Architects ZGF Architect’s visualization of circulation through a proposed corporate campus accommodating 15,000 people was informed by many sources, including keycards and security consultants.

Despite the effort that goes into design, architects often remain—sometimes willingly—in the dark about how their buildings serve their occupants. Increasingly, data-driven clients want to verify the design goals of their completed projects.

And, as revealing as a post-occupancy evaluation can be, the pre-occupancy evaluation is equally as critical. Documenting the “before” state of an environment provides a solid benchmark from which to calculate the impact of the design. Otherwise, says Mardelle Shepley, FAIA, a professor and chair of the department of design and environmental analysis at Cornell University, “you cannot determine if a transition has been made.”

While experience, best practices, and intuition continue to guide design decisions, and surveys, observations, and building monitoring data inform occupancy evaluations, architects can now leverage technology to collect user feedback and performance metrics en masse, analyze the information, and distill the results, improving the entire process of design.

Tech for Every Project
With recent advancements made in computing, data-seeking firms now have ready access to apps and machine learning tools.