Skip to content.

Recent History of Architectural Research at NDSU

Architectural Research

Architectural research is different from basic or applied research, in that design processes are involved as part of the research. Architectural research attempts to solve a research problem, answer a research question, or address a design issue, using designs as the vehicle for the inquiry. The instruments of the research are often drawings, animations, models, simulations and other design artifacts. The researcher attempts to solve a design problem, answer a research question, or address a design issue, using these design artifacts as research instruments.

The Architectural Research Studio

The Architectural Research Studio is a viable curricular offering in a professional, graduate, accredited curriculum in Architecture. It provides the benefits of boosting research productivity in a department, strengthening ties with architectural firms that have an alumni presence, providing career networking opportunities for graduate students, generating valuable intellectual property, fostering research careers, and adding to the knowledge base of the Architecture profession. The all-around benefits far outweigh the challenges that have to be overcome in offering this studio.

This experiment with an architectural research studio was first conducted during the fall semester of 2010 in the Department of Architecture and Landscape Architecture at North Dakota State University. The studio course was taught by Dr. Ganapathy Mahalingam, then an Associate Professor of Architecture and Landscape Architecture, who holds a Ph.D. in Architecture, and has extensive experience with research projects. In order to facilitate a wide range of research topics to be covered by students in the course, Dr. Mahalingam approached the Advisory Board of the department, consisting mainly of alumni of the department, and asked them to provide research problems, questions, and issues, from the world of their professional practice that the students could address. Two firms with an alumni presence responded with research topics, one of which was selected by two different students to pursue. Considering that this was a brand new initiative, this was a good beginning. As the studio evolved, with more active participation by alumni firms, a much richer intellectual discourse was enabled. The various projects featured on this site were completed by the students in repeated offerings of the course. The research projects cover a diverse range of topics that utilize many different research methods to address the issues that the students have taken upon themselves to resolve.

NOTE: As of the fall semester of 2015, the Sponsored Programs Administration at North Dakota State University has ruled that sponsored projects cannot be part of academic coursework in the Architectural Research Studio, so some of the benefits outlined in the next three sections are no longer viable at North Dakota State University.

Advantages of the Architectural Research Studio:

  • Graduate students can utilize the studio to complete research projects fit for publication. Often this experience will be their first attempt at a research publication.
  • Faculty members who teach the studio can co-author research papers with the graduate students for presentation at conferences, or for publication. As much as a dozen papers can be co-authored in a semester, which is a high level of productivity for a faculty member, especially one who is to go up for promotion and/or tenure.
  • Students can work on research problems, research questions, or design issues, supplied by alumni firms. This allows the graduate students to work on real world problems, questions, and issues, drawn from the world of professional practice. This also allows the graduate students to network with alumni firms for future employment.
  • The students, faculty, department and university can benefit from the creation of intellectual property, which can be transferred to architectural firms, using a licensing system, or be sold outright.
  • The research work completed in this studio can be compiled annually and provided to member firms that participate in a research consortium managed by the department, by paying an annual membership fee. Alternatively the research projects can be featured on the department’s web site, creating high profile exposure of cutting edge work being done by the graduate students.
  • The studio can become a vehicle for the high research productivity in sponsored research that is demanded from departments at a research university. A department’s typical annual quota of publications can be met easily with this studio being offered annually.

Financial Benefits of an Architectural Research Studio

The Architectural Research Studio can provide all around financial benefits for students, faculty, the department and the university, when it is offered.

  • For the research work, a graduate student can be paid a stipend of a minimum of $1600 per semester (160 hours at the rate of $10 per hour), which constitutes a quarter-time assistantship, which, in most institutions qualifies for a tuition waiver. This stipend can be sponsored by the architectural firm submitting the research question, problem or issue to be resolved. For a class of 12 graduate students, a sponsored outlay of less than $20,000 can support the entire studio.
  • The architectural firm sponsoring the graduate student can also negotiate to acquire the intellectual property being generated by the graduate student and the faculty member teaching the studio. It is customary that the university and department would receive shares of this intellectual property for the resources they provide in generating the intellectual property.
  • All the participants in the studio stand to benefit financially from the offering of the studio:
  • The university would be in a position to generate income from licensing fees for the intellectual property generated by the studio.
  • The department would be able to recover indirect costs in generating the intellectual property.
  • The faculty member teaching the studio would be in a position to receive his or her share of the intellectual property earnings in the form of royalties, or a portion of the licensing fees.
  • The student would be in a position to receive a stipend, and a tuition waiver for completing the research. In addition, the student may also be eligible for a share of the income generated by the intellectual property generated.

Process Framework for the Architectural Research Studio

The following is a template for the process of implementing an Architectural Research Studio:

  • Solicit research problems, questions and issues from architectural firms with an alumni presence
  • Augment list of problems, questions and issues with topics that are relevant to the professional practice of architecture
  • Prepare a detailed description of the research topics collected
  • Allocate research topics to the graduate students
  • Identify liaisons in architectural firms who will work with the graduate students
  • Identify projects that require participation of human subjects
  • Prepare students for training in using human subjects in their research as established by the university’s Institutional Review Boards
  • Identify appropriate research methods for each research topic and locate research resources
  • Create a schedule for the semester in which the studio is offered
  • Execute the research projects
  • Make sure the liaisons in the architectural firms are engaged throughout the execution of the project
  • Document the research projects using the submission format of reputed journals such as the Journal of Architecture and Planning Research

Faculty Resources Required for the Studio

  • A faculty member, preferably with a Ph.D. degree, who is well versed with structuring and executing a research project.
  • A faculty member, who has taught courses in design research methods, or is otherwise well-versed in the various research methods that can be brought to bear in architectural design. A good resource for the faculty member would be a textbook such as Architectural Research Methods by Linda Groat and David Wang.
  • A faculty member with a breadth of expertise to tackle the different research projects that may emerge in the process of working with alumni firms.
  • A faculty member who has practiced, or has worked with practitioners, and who is familiar with the issues facing the real world of architectural practice.
  • A faculty member who has experience in working with the sponsored research office at the university, and the Institutional Review Boards that govern research with human subjects.

Research Projects

Discoveries in the last few years

From Ecology to Architectural Design: a framework for translation of ecological principles

Abstract: This paper is part of an on-going research study in the field of architectural design that is attempting to bridge the gap between ecology and designing architectural environments. The study of architecture and ecology together is a way to approach the built environment as a more dynamic system that responds to the needs of the inhabitant. It is positioned in such a way that by studying the organization of successful ecological processes of natural organized systems, an innovative set of design principles can be implemented successfully in the practice of architectural design. This report will begin by analyzing the natural processes that are a part of ecosystems and then, with architecture as the vehicle, explore if it is possible to create a new model that will shift the paradigm toward a more dynamic and responsive built environment.

Through a comparative literature study and compiling, reviewing, and analyzing ecological principles, the research results that have been reported have been broken down in to six principles. These principles will be used as a framework for understanding how ecology can be abstracted as a design methodology. This research paper shows how this innovative model will allow the architectural profession to go beyond sustaining current practices and encourage natural ecological processes as a vital component in architectural design.

Researcher: Kaitlyn Aberle

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Ganapathy Mahalingam

Term: Fall 2017

Act for Children: A Study of How Architecture Can Foster Development During Stages of Early Childhood

Abstract: What role does architecture play in fostering the stages of early childhood development? The first five years of a child’s life are the most crucial years of their developmental process as they grow not only physically but also cognitively, socially and emotionally. Children are impressionable human beings drastically impacted by their surrounding environments. Through design, we can enhance the lives of the users through well informed environments that are not only healthy but safe, functional and beautiful. This paper seeks to investigate the stages of development and identify key prepared environments that facilitate learning in early child development. The results suggest that, in terms of the ideal environment for children, not one prepared environment takes precedent over the others. Scale, light, color, safety, security, spatial arrangement, and nature all play an integral role in the development of children. Designing for children is no simple task. As designers we have the responsibility and ethical duty to provide a comprehensive analysis on the needs of our clients. It is our role to ensuring a healthy and nurturing environment while providing a developmentally appropriate and stimulating environment to our nation’s youngest generation.

Researcher: Kelsey Jarrett

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Ganapathy Mahalingam

Term: Fall 2017

VISITOR DRIVEN EXHIBITIONS

CURATING MUSEUMS BASED ON VISITOR BEHAVIOR PATTERNS

Abstract: The use of visitor behavior tracking and analysis can be of great use to museum professionals and designers alike. Using established technology commonly used in other applications and adapting process to fit the context, low cost options exist to aid in the design of new museum and exhibit spaces. As shown through this study, the implementation of inexpensive cameras and intensive study of visitor pathways, a number of common behavior patterns can be extrapolated. These patterns have been proven to successfully match simulated outcomes, signaling the potential for this process to be more widely applied in the field of museum design. Architects, planners, and museum staff alike could benefit from the implementation of the process utilized in this study to better understand their patrons and predict how future exhibitions will be experienced. Using standards established through greater study of this methodology, baseline engagement rates could provide a starting point for analysis, or individual study of existing museums can more specifically predict visitor behavior. Utilizing this process, museum designers may now have better control and a quantitative understanding of how visitors engage with exhibition spaces.

Researcher: Brady Laurin

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Ganapathy Mahalingam

Term: Fall 2017

Quantification of Gentrification

Abstract: This research aims to provide a concise way to quantify gentrification for the purpose of application in the design professions to help mitigate and reduce negative effects seen with gentrification. First, by researching into the major types of gentrification and understanding the factors that contribute to them, a core model can be created. Then, by utilizing case studies of urban areas undergoing urban redevelopment in their cores and analyzing major factors, we can crossreference expected forms of gentrification from actual results. By honing in on the factors leading to gentrification issues, we can then apply a quantifiable factor to such contexts which can be used to compare to other like contexts and compare design strategies.

Researcher: Alex Malnaa

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Ganapathy Mahalingam

Term: Fall 2017

Adaptive Architectural Value Engineering

Automation of Simplex Optimization

Abstract: To develop an architectural design with an optimal solution, an understanding of the mechanics of design process becomes important. In 'Design by Optimization in Architecture, Building, and Construction', architectural design is defined as a goal-directed activity in which decisions are made about the physical for of the building and their components in order to ensure their fitness for the intended purposes. Further, that design itself is comprised of three primary identifiable phases, problem analysis, design synthesis, and design evolution, which are performed in a cyclical process by conscious or unconscious sorting of design goals. (Gero, Radford, 1988)

This process of design moves from generalizations about design defined in a broad terms, methods, and doctrines, and results in optimal design solutions. These solutions may or may not be the optimal answer to the design problems. The cyclical form of design becomes well suited for the introduction of value mapping and continual  improvement practices. Architectural design is not often thought of in this manner, lacking proper evaluation of design changes and post occupancy analysis. Gero and Radford, 1988, refer to the a bias present in design practice in which a designer over rely on personal judgment in the decisions affecting the trade-offs between design solutions without proper numerical or practical reasoning to meet client or social expectations at the cost of performance in the final product. Does form follow function, or function follow form? In a optimal method of design, the cyclical evolution of the solutions allows for both statements to be true. This allows a balancing of aesthetics to performance sought in an optimal solution to a design problem.

Researcher: Christopher Meyer

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Ganapathy Mahalingam

Term: Fall 2017

Evaluating performance of greenhouse design through digital simulation: a case study of a USDA facility at the North Dakota State University

Abstract: The goal of this architectural research study is to simulate the thermal performance of a multi-story greenhouse design. To do this, the study must first verify the authenticity of digital simulation, then apply the solver technology to additional designs. It does this in three phases:

The first is a quantifiable, measurable field investigation which will lead to conclusions about the varying temperatures surrounding a greenhouse facility. The study data describes a distinct difference in temperature between the interior and exterior, demonstrating a clear control of the internal environment across all weather conditions. The second phase of the study simulates the greenhouse’s performance in Autodesk CFD using comparable conditions as found in the first phase. The resulting simulation data has minimal deviation from reality: 92% of the results were within 10°F of the actual recorded data. In the third and final phase of the study, CFD is used to evaluate the thermal performance of three new designs. This provides an incredible amount of insight into the impact of design factors such as massing, HVAC placement and solar orientation. This study attempts to prove that digital simulation can accurately predict the thermal performance of a design. Based on the success of the three phases, it can be concluded that CFD has the ability to reflect reality in a consistent and accurate manner.

Researcher: Alexandra Mills

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Ganapathy Mahalingam

Term: Fall 2017

CANCER CENTER: HEALING THROUGH ARCHITECTURE

Abstract: Designers play an important and specific role in the design of health-related facilities.  Specifically, for diseases such as cancer which has its own criteria within the field of health care design.  Besides the physical equipment and correlating spaces required, there are psychological, emotional, and philosophical requirements.  It is very much a human-centered design problem that necessitates delicate care and empathy from the designer.  Cancer is one of the most frightening and stress-inducing diagnoses a person can receive.  Providing a space that can help to improve outcomes, would be beneficial to people battling cancer.

Researcher: Stina Ostlie

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Ganapathy Mahalingam

Term: Fall 2017

Disaster Response: Casualty Collection System for Post Disaster Aid

Abstract: What role does architecture play in post disaster response? How can architects become more involved with responding to disasters? How do we keep in mind that "Emergency management is not just the responsibility of emergency managers."? (Syllabus, pg.5) These were my driving questions throughout this semesters research to develop my thesis. The research that was conducted is to provide a background to fully develop a disaster response system that has three important elements; a response system smartphone application, casualty collection units, and temporary couchette units. This semesters focus was to start developing the response system smartphone application that can be used by emergency managers, first responders, hospitals, and government officials. Currently the smartphone application has been developed to the point of producing general data based on the ideal system output numbers for the casualty collection units and the temporary couchette units. It is expected that next semester the output of the response system smartphone application will have more solid numbers based on the final design of all unit types sent. The entire response system with every element could be a valuable resource for first responders that they currently don't have during disasters. It will also provide a uniform response system throughout the United States.

Researcher: Elizabeth Rae

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Ganapathy Mahalingam

Term: Fall 2017

Life and Architecture in the Public Realm

Abstract: While one might think of the public realm as any and all space outside one’s front door, the reality has never been as simple. Throughout history, different activities and philosophies have shaped the ways societies interact with public space, which has in turn contributed to the ever-changing state of public architecture and public space planning. Even in the modern day, the public realm is ill-defined, and really exists as more of a spectrum from public to private. Though many activities once thought of as public have moved into the private domain, cultural differences and the differing urban character of cities continue to contribute to sometimes massive differences in how the public realm is regarded between nations or even nearby cities.

These differences that develop throughout place and time cannot be attributed to one single law or idea, but rather a collection of factors. The public life of cities is shaped as much by the decisions of government officials and city planners as it is by the ways people simply choose to interact with the public realm. Social interaction, political demonstration, religious life, cultural events and exchanges, commercial transactions, and environmental quality all contribute in major ways to how the public perceives the public realm, and how designers design for it. In examining societal views of the public realm, it is of the utmost importance to examine how these factors have contributed to the shape of the public realm over time. The public space of an ancient Middle Eastern city, will be different from that of a medieval European city, which will in turn be different from a cosmopolitan western city, but ideas from all times and eras will undoubtedly still be reflected in the modern shapes and perspectives of the public sphere.

Researcher: Nicholas Saddler

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Ganapathy Mahalingam

Term: Fall 2017

A Preliminary Analysis of the Craft Beer Brewing Process

The potential options on future expansion

Abstract: As the third most consumed liquid and first most consumed in the realm of alcoholic drinks, beer making is considered one of the most important industries in the world. The oldest record of a recipe, which could in fact be the oldest recipe in the world, dates back to between 5000 - 2000 B.C. in what is now known as Egypt (Mauk, 2013). It is even thought to have been undocumented but still consumed nearly 5000 years before even that (Mauk, 2013). Beer has been such a fundamental part of civilization that the country of Germany has even implemented a law that has stood for over 500 years called the Reinheitsgebot, or the German Beer Purity Law, stating only hops, barley, water, and later allowed for yeast can be considered beer (Nicholson, 2016). This journal celebrates the love of beer by identifying and explores the process of brewing beer through independent study, case study work, and digital analysis. To start, a detailed description of how the malts, hops, water, yeast, and additional flavors are added together in various pieces of equipment to make the end product of beer. Continuing, a brief analysis of the configuration of the different pieces of equipment and how they relate with each other. From there, a detailed look at the equipment used in the brewing process and how the different pieces of equipment connect.

Researcher: Kenneth Stephenson

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Ganapathy Mahalingam

Term: Fall 2017

DESIGNING FOR HUMANITY

How can the architecture of correctional centers improve the lives of inmates?

Abstract: The purpose of this research is to look at the current architecture of correctional centers around the world and how it relates to the well being of inmates. If American prisons followed the examples Scandinavian prisons set, there could be a better future for individuals who encounter the penal system. The main premise of this argument is that there are simple ways we can improve the lives of inmates. Through access to nature, sunlight, and exercise, they are given the opportunity for a healthier lifestyle while incarcerated. In most cases, healthier means happier and happier inmates lead to less incidents between inmates and guards. Recently, American prisons have used more evidence based design when deciding how to construct prisons. It has proven to be a better solution to create healing spaces rather than oppressive spaces. America is known world-wide for its correctional system and the harsh punishments assigned to those who come in contact with it. Many citizens of the United States believe that harsh punishment is a good thing, they believe that with harsher punishment comes reform. Select individuals believe the opposite is true; they believe that harsh punishment harms individuals and in turn increases the percent of recidivism. Research done by the National Institute of Justice supports this belief and shows that long prison sentences do very little to prevent future crime.

Researcher: Elizabeth Thordson

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Ganapathy Mahalingam

Term: Fall 2017

A Quantitative Index for Comparing Quality of Life in American Cities

Abstract: Most standard Quality of Life measurements operate based upon national objective data or localized subjective surveys. The goal of this project was to develop an objective urban analysis system that can be applied to any US Census defined Core-Based Statistical Area. By adapting the objective categories from the Eurostat’s (Statistical Office of the European Union)  “8 + 1 Dimensions of QoL” model, an index was derived where each category would be represented by 1-3 datasets. Raw data was input into a spreadsheet to calculate 16 datapoints for each city. The index was tested utilizing data for Fargo, ND; Moorhead, MN; Grand Forks, ND; and Bangor; ME. While these are similarly sized cities, the analysis shows that for best results a comparison should be limited to a select region. The most statistically significant factors followed the ratios of school buildings to public parks and to center based childcare. While the resulting scores and charts do not immediately translate to community directives, the importance of dense development is supported. There are many reasons the social sciences seek to measure and track quality of life. However the most common use, is for interantional organizations to assess daily life and compare nations in a way that goes beyond economics. But what about the local scale? What should be used by city government, housing agencies, community development corporations, charitable design projects, etc.?

Researcher: Dan Todd

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Ganapathy Mahalingam

Term: Fall 2017

Integrating an ArchiCAD Model with Specifications

The Problem: There is no direct relationship between what is modeled in ArchiCAD and the materials and products specified in the Specification Manual on a job. The model is usually created first, and a spreadsheet or folder will hold information dumps about various product options. Towards the end of design development, those products get organized so that they can be given to a specification writer who then looks at the drawings in the CD phase and tries to make sure that products shown are accounted for in the Manual.

The Goal: We need a stronger automated (or two linked) interface between ArchiCAD and a specification writing software. When something is modeled in ArchiCAD, there needs to be a way to identify it as needing to be shown in the specification, and a way of passing information or properties associated with it into the specification. There should also be a way to compare the information being brought to the specification with what has been used in the past or is preferred as a way of identifying elements of the model that should be constructed of different materials or products.

Requirements:

  • Interface with popular specification writing formats such as MasterSpec
  • Have a process that is iterative and cumulative so that a specification may be built up over time
  • Have a way for auditing the information and comparing it with historical specification data

Sponsoring Firm: Levi+Wong Design Associates, Boston, Massachusetts

Graduate Research Assistant: Ryan Gram

Principal Investigator: Dr. Ganapathy Mahalingam

Date: Spring 2016

Integrating an ArchiCAD Model with Cost Estimating: Development of a Workflow

The Problem: We as Architects are responsible for designing within an owner’s budget, but we are not in control of either price estimate or project delivery costs. Pricing in the design process, when done at all, is created by a paid consultant who itemizes information on a pricing set of drawings, and assigns cost to it based on experience building other jobs, the current cost of materials, and labor rates. This process is slow, and it can be difficult to repeat the process as a way of understanding cost implications of specific decisions. Knowing cost implications earlier and making decisions earlier leads to less redesigning later, and therefore will help projects remain more profitable.

The Goal: What we need is an automated (or two linked) process that will take information held in the ArchiCad model/database and merge it into costing software to create a Budget Price, which can be updated frequently with little effort.

Requirements:

  • Interface with popular cost estimation software such as Sage Software’s Timberline Estimating or other
  • Update-able process that allows for frequent repetition
  • Have a breakdown of cost that allows for a design team to be informed in balancing scope vs budget
  • Have a quick bottom line number for the building

Sponsoring Firm: Levi+Wong Design Associates, Boston, Massachusetts

Graduate Research Assistant: Ryan Gram

Principal Investigator: Dr. Ganapathy Mahalingam

Date: Fall 2015

Development of a Simulation Model to Determine Number of Dock Bays in a Hospital

Topic:  Development of a simulation model to determine the number of dock bays needed at a hospital based on hospital patient volume and materials delivered or picked up from the dock. Clean and soiled separation should be considered in the development of the model. The simulation model should allow for real time adjustments and results display

Background: It is becoming increasingly difficult to get user input in the development of a healthcare facility. Clients are expecting a more robust way of determining the number of dock spaces needed based on patient volume and the associated volume of materials received on the dock, or being picked up from the dock. Clean and soiled dock separation is now an industry standard, and dock planning and simulation should accommodate this. As healthcare support service experts HKS needs a tool that can be used to help the client understand the exact number of bays needed based on volume. Output of this simulation will help the design teams plan for sufficient space to allow for all materials management receiving and dispatch functions.

Software: The simulation will be developed using ExtendSim OR software

End product/Deliverables:

Results of literature review - delivered to HKS Knox Advisors (Literature review should focus on best practices for dock bay usage, dock hours of operation or any other evidence that will support the study)

  • A dock bay simulation model
  • Final presentation materials

Sponsoring Firm: Knox Advisors- HKS Inc., Dallas, Texas

Graduate Research Assistant: Shannon Hanson

Principal Investigator: Dr. Ganapathy Mahalingam

Date: Fall 2015

Methodology for Studying IEQ Impact as a Design Tool

Goal: To study the impact of indoor environment quality on occupants in school design

Tasks and Deliverables:

  • Conduct a literature search to summarize existing research on the impact of indoor environmental quality (IEQ) factors on learning and productivity in K-12 schools
  • Develop a methodology to study IEQ design impact
  • Create rules of thumb for design

Sponsoring Firm: LHB Corporation, Duluth, Minnesota.

Graduate Research Assistant: Alicia Fadley

Principal Investigator: Dr. Ganapathy Mahalingam

Date: Fall 2015

A Study in the Adaptive Reuse of a Medium Sized Building in a Blighted Urban Area to Create a Vibrant Urban Node

Project Description: A study in the reuse/repurposing of medium sized boxes in a deteriorating urban context coupled with creating an urbanscape of urban park opportunities in and around these nodes within an older lesser desirable neighborhood.  Las Vegas may be a prime setting offering opportunities of the like.  Fargo may not possess any of these blighted areas however a shrinking Midwest city might offer similar opportunity.

Sponsoring Firm: Klai Juba Wald Architects, Las Vegas, Nevada.

Graduate Research Assistant: Pedro Armendariz

Principal Investigator: Dr. Ganapathy Mahalingam

Date: Fall 2015

Integrating Cost Estimating in BIM

Goal: To integrate cost estimating with a Revit model using Assemble

Tasks and Deliverables:

  • Creating a master cost table with costs for all Assembly Codes in Revit for regular construction, selecting costs from the RS Means database
  • Assigning costs to a Revit model of a project in Assemble and creating a cost estimate for the project
  • Creating master cost tables for various other types of construction such as demolition and renovation

Sponsoring Firm: R. L. Engebretson Holding, Inc., Fargo, North Dakota

Graduate Research Assistant: Hue Chee Vang

Principal Investigator: Dr. Ganapathy Mahalingam

Date: Fall 2015

Integration of Uniformat to Masterspec Mapping Database with e-Specs Using the Binding Manager

Project Description: Integration of the Uniformat to Master Spec mapping database that has been developed with the e-Specs system by creating Binding Sets using the Binding Manager in e-Specs. Binding Sets for an RLE Master Specification document, and the Scheels and RDO specification section sets, will be completed.

Sponsoring Firm: R. L. Engebretson Holding, Inc., Fargo, North Dakota

Graduate Research Assistant: Joshua Donnelly

Principal Investigator: Dr. Ganapathy Mahalingam

Date: Spring 2015

Flexibility and Adaptability in Modern Office Environments

Project Description: Conduct a comprehensive literature review on design strategies for planning office environments and buildings to accommodate flexible spaces (i.e., reconfigurations) and adapting to changes in technology, staffing needs, and resources. Study will include a detailed case study on the decade-old MN DHS Elmer L. Andersen building in downtown Saint Paul. Student will provide an analysis of multiple reconfigurations that have occurred over the past ten years, reasons for reconfiguring layouts and floors, and the process involved with coordinating substantial facilities reconfigurations.

BWBR will provide floor plans (PDFs offered by DHS facilities) of multiple floor reconfigurations for analysis. Analysis data may include SF/person/floor and how that has changed throughout the years as staff has been added and the need for paper storage has been reduced. Student may also engage in interviews with the facilities personnel to discuss the process, factors, and time/cost involved with substantial reconfigurations.

The resulting deliverable will be a literature review, business case narrative, and case study for employing “flexible and adaptable” design strategies for new office buildings. Strategy examples include raised floor, demountable walls, modular furniture planning, lighting layouts, etc.

Sponsoring Firm: BWBR, St. Paul, Minnesota

Graduate Research Assistant: Alexandra Schrader

Principal Investigator: Dr. Ganapathy Mahalingam

Date: Fall 2014

Study in using the AnyLogic software for Analyzing the Spatial Arrangement of the Surgery Center and Clinic in an Ambulatory Care Center in Ogden, Utah

Project Description: HKS is interested in the application of AnyLogic to research the implications of alternative configurations of the surgery center and clinic to inform design choices.

A 100,000 bgsf Ambulatory Care project comprised of an ambulatory surgery center with 8 operating rooms, two multidisciplinary clinic modules supporting 10 orthopedic/sports medicine physicians, rehabilitation and return to sports center with gym, pools, sports enhancement and therapy areas, and a 20 bed short stay patient care unit. The site is near McKay Dee Hospital Center in Ogden, Utah with some variation in topography and extensive natural views of mountains.

The goal of the research project was to use AnyLogic, a process modeling software, to model and simulate ambulatory care facilities. Using different metrics such as employee utilization, employee walking distances, room utilization, patient waking distances and wait times, the spatial arrangement of the ambulatory care facilities could be analyzed and adjusted accordingly to improve the characteristics of the room.

Sponsoring Firm: HKS Inc., Dallas, Texas

Graduate Research Assistant: Gregory Bednar

Principal Investigator: Dr. Ganapathy Mahalingam

Date: Fall 2014

Spatial Study of Alzheimer's and Dementia Patients' Treatment Units to Maximize Sensor Coverage

Project Description: During the course of the fall semester of 2014 the Design Team of North Dakota State University will investigate the spatial arrangements of designs for Alzheimer’s and Dementia patients’ treatment units to maximize sensor coverage.

The Design Team will create various computer-based 3D models of spatial arrangements of treatment units and analyze them for coverage by CCTV cameras, RF sensors, and other types of sensor-based surveillance equipment. The emphasis will be on the efficient and effective coverage of all patient treatment areas by the equipment, while maximizing coverage.

A set of ideal candidate solutions for treatment units of various sizes and occupancy levels will be provided as the deliverable for the project, along with a measure of the effectiveness of the sensor coverage for each solution.

Sponsoring Firm: Klai Juba Wald Architects, Las Vegas, Nevada

Graduate Research Assistant: Timothy Halvorson

Principal Investigator: Dr. Ganapathy Mahalingam

Date: Fall 2014

Daylight and Energy Analysis of Groat Point Project

Project Description: Creation of a computer-based 3D model of the Groat Point residential project, simulating the daylight access in the model with high-end renderings, and performing daylight and energy analysis using the model, with appropriate simulation software.

Deliverables include publication-fit material in the form of high-end renderings, analytical diagrams and charts, and analysis reports.

Sponsoring Firm: Kristi Hanson Architects, Palm Desert, California

Graduate Research Assistant: Jennifer Watters

Principal Investigator: Dr. Ganapathy Mahalingam

Date: Fall 2014

Study of Wind Pressure Distribution on Skylights of Scheels project in Billings, Montana

Project Description: Creation of a detailed 3D model of the skylight over the atrium in the Scheels project in Billings, Montana, simulation of wind forces on the skylight, and mapping of wind pressure distribution on the various surfaces of the skylight, with changing wind conditions during the different seasons.

This project examines questions regarding wind pressure on roofs, around a building site, and in entry vestibules. The problems that arose consisted of high pressure areas on the roof, snow drifts developing in undesirable locations, and interior ceiling tiles in the vestibule blowing out of their tracks because of high wind pressure. The simulations performed sought to determine the location and amount of the highest wind pressure exerted on the roof’s surface as well as in the vestibule. This study also analyzed the impact that the inclusion of an outlet had for the wind

Mapping Uniformat Assembly Codes onto MasterSpec Specification Sections

Project Description: Mapping of Uniformat II Assembly Codes onto appropriate MasterSpec specification sections and creation of mapping table and binding manager in e-Specs for Revit.

The goal of this research is to connect two different types of construction standards, MasterSpec specifications and Uniformat Assembly Codes. There is an emphasis on Uniformat Assembly Codes in this research as Revit uses these codes for its components and families. By connecting MasterSpec to these codes, entire specification books can be produced through the information contained in the digital model. Completing a master database of these connections will enable a design firm to complete the specification phase simultaneously with the design of the digital model.

Sponsoring Firm: R. L. Engebretson Holding, Inc., Fargo, North Dakota

Graduate Research Assistant: Joshua Donnelly

Principal Investigator: Dr. Ganapathy Mahalingam

Date: Fall 2014

Implementation of BIM Integration in Practice

Project Description: The Design Team assigned to the project in the Department of Architecture and Landscape Architecture at North Dakota State University shall help R. L. Engebretson Co. implement the integration of the various software pieces identified below, according to a framework and work flow to create an integrated building information model for its projects using the Revit software as a base, and which includes the following:

  1. Development of a deployment framework for the integration of various BIM tools for practice.
  2. Deployment and training in the use of the Assemble software platform for practice.
  3. Deployment and training in the use of BIM Glue 360 for practice.
  4. Deployment and training in the use of Bluebeam Revu for practice.

The deployment and training shall occur with weekly meetings at the R. L. Engebretson Co. office in Fargo, North Dakota. The graduate research assistant from the Design Team shall meet with personnel from R. L. Engebretson Co, on Mondays and Thursdays of the week from 1:30 PM to 5:30 PM for the deployment and training. The faculty advisor and the graduate research assistant shall also meet with the implementation team at R. L. Engebretson Co, once every week on Monday afternoon at 2:00 PM for up to 2 hours to review progress with the implementation.

Sponsoring Firm: R. L. Engebretson Holding, Inc., Fargo, North Dakota

Graduate Research Assistant: Joshua Muckenhirn

Principal Investigator: Dr. Ganapathy Mahalingam

Date: Spring 2014

Study of Collaboration in Higher Education

Topic:  Collaboration in Higher Education  

This project involves identifying the architectural characteristics of spaces that facilitate collaboration in higher education, deriving the spatial organization and circulation patterns that facilitate collaboration, and simulation of collaborative environments. This project is in partnership with the architecture firm BWBR located in St. Paul Minnesota. BWBR has been hired for the new Science and Technology building to be built at North Dakota State University. BWBR is responding to the request, by NDSU president Dean Bresciani, that the new building become a center for higher education collaboration.

Mentors:  Stephanie McDaniel, AIA, LEED AP BD+C and Stefnee Trzpuc, MS, CID, EDAC, LEED AP  

Scope of Work: This project will involve identifying the architectural characteristics of spaces that facilitate collaboration in higher education, deriving the spatial organizations and circulation patterns that facilitate collaboration, and simulating collaborative environments using AnyLogic to determine how they perform under different conditions. The purpose of the project is to come up with the best strategies to design collaborative spaces for higher education. The student will proceed with an in-depth exploration of collaboration in higher education environments, addressing the following research questions:   

  • Where does collaboration happen in higher education environments?
  • What are common design elements to those areas/spaces?(e.g., what facilitates collaboration – places, properties, actions, attitudes)
  • How will collaboration change over the next decade?  Subsequently, how does that impact space needs in a learning environment?  

The following methods (in addition to others as approved by firm and faculty) should be considered: (BWBR has some tools developed – could look at building on those…)

  • Literature review
  • Observations
  • Interviews/Focus Groups/Surveys
  • Simulation Tools (AnyLogic) to study agent-based and discrete-event simulation to study how people cluster
  • Behavioral MappingSpace Syntax Theory  

Deliverables:

  • A report with findings from the above tools, including a literature review.
  • Graphic reporting of findings (e.g., easy to read graphic analysis – info graphics, etc.)
  • Proposed design strategies to support future collaboration needs in higher education (what types of spaces could be potentially ‘sandbox’ tested (e.g., create ad hoc study spaces on campus and study effectiveness) the following semester to inform the current NDSU project 

Student/Firm/Faculty Interface:

  • Bi-weekly email/WebEx
  • Mid-term Report Review
  • Final Report Review

Sponsoring Firm: BWBR, St. Paul, Minnesota

Graduate Research Assistant: Matthew Dunham

Principal Investigator: Dr. Ganapathy Mahalingam

Date: Fall 2013

Implications of Changes in the Energy Code

Topic:  Implications of changes in the energy code

Mentors:  Eric West, AIA, LEED AP and Jesse Turck, AIA, LEED AP BD+C

Scope of Work: The student will proceed with an in-depth exploration of implications of recent changes to the energy codes as it relates to building insulation requirements. The student will address the following research questions:

  • What are the current required U values for building assemblies in each state in the Upper Midwest?
  • What changes have been made in each of these states recently? Are future changes coming?

Recent changes in the energy code have led our practice to revise our typical exterior wall insulation from 2” extruded polystyrene insulation to 3”.  After developing an understanding of the code issues we would like to understand the return on investment for additional insulation and the most effective types of insulation. The student will address the following research questions:

  • What is the return on investment for 3” vs. 2” of extruded polystyrene?
  • What are the benefits of the available insulation options including extruded polystyrene, polyisocyanurate, and mineral wool (cost / performance, embodied energy, carbon effect…)
  • How do the comparison developed by the student compare to those developed to modeling developed for the Energy Design Assistance program?

The following methods (in addition to others as approved by firm and faculty) should be considered:

  • Literature review
  • Simulation Tools to study thermal performance of wall assemblies (Autodesk Simulation 360 Pro, Energy Plus)

Deliverables:

  • A summary of applicable codes and standards [State energy codes, ASHRAE, NFPA (flame spread issues relative to exterior wall insulation)].
  • Graphic reporting of findings (e.g., easy to read graphic analysis – info graphics, etc.)

Student/Firm/Faculty Interface:

  • Bi-weekly email/WebEx
  • Mid-term Report Review
  • Final Report Review

Sponsoring Firm: BWBR, St. Paul, Minnesota

Graduate Research Assistant: Leah Fagerland

Principal Investigator: Dr. Ganapathy Mahalingam

Date: Fall 2013

Construction Scheduling of BIM Model

Project Description: The Design Team assigned to the project in the Department of Architecture and Landscape Architecture at North Dakota State University shall develop a construction schedule based on the BIM Model of the Groat Point residence, which includes the following:

  1. Incorporating parts and assemblies into the various building components of the BIM model of the Groat Point residence.
  2. Enabling the construction scheduling of the BIM model of the Groat Point residence, with the aim of reducing construction time from 26 months to 18 months.

Industry Foundation Classes, or IFCs for short, exist for the safe transfer of digital building information between professions. The language of IFC has been prevalent between some architectural firms and their corresponding engineering firms since the inception of BIM (Building Information Modeling). The transfer of this IFC data between persons, programs, and business systems has allowed for a much-enhanced project delivery, resulting in less waste, less frustration, less money spent, and consequently less construction time. However, as it is, only few firms utilize BIM technology, and fewer understand and/or utilize Industry Foundation Classes. Though there is relatively clear dialogue between the designer and engineer via standardized technology, there is much dissonance between ‘architecture language’ and ‘contractor language.’ This project provides analysis into the topic of Industry Foundation Classes as the interoperable language between architect and contractor, and how IFCs can be utilized effectively by both architect and general contractor in creating a smarter construction schedule, thereby reducing construction time. It aims at providing hope for the dissemination of this knowledge to all professions involved in the building trades, and for better communication of information between architect and contractor.

The Sponsor shall provide the necessary professional licenses or keys for software needed to complete the project. The software provided by the Sponsor will be returned to the Sponsor after the completion of the project.

Sponsoring Firm: Kristi Hanson Architects, Palm Desert, California

Graduate Research Assistant: Matthew Weiss

Principal Investigator: Dr. Ganapathy Mahalingam

Date: Fall 2013

Integrated BIM Models

Project Description: The Design Team assigned to the project in the Department of Architecture and Landscape Architecture at North Dakota State University shall develop a framework and work flow to create an integrated building model using the Revit BIM software, which includes the following:

  1. Integration of specifications with a BIM model using Revit and e-Specs.
  2. Integration of cost data with a BIM model using RS Means cost data and proprietary information.
  3. Integration of construction scheduling information with a BIM model and linking it to project management software.
  4. Integration of operation and maintenance documents with a BIM model with an easy to use dashboard.

Student Statement: The goal of this Graduate Research Assistantship is ultimately to discover and document various methodologies for integrating and linking numerous documents to one 3D Model.  Through this investigation, I hope to successfully document, step-by-step, how such integrations can be implemented and utilized to increase the efficiency of BIM modeling.  Virtual 3D modeling is no longer sufficient for the Architecture and Construction industries.  Project members and owners are demanding a more cohesive methodology for communicating throughout the design and construction processes, and even into post-project occupancy.  Throughout the design and construction of a project, there are numerous models each illustrating a different system within the building such as an Architectural model, a Mechanical model, a Structural model, and so on.  Having separate models can hinder the construction process by slowing down communication between offices.  With holistic BIM modeling, the communication process can be revitalized and revolutionized by merging all models into one cohesive and integrated model with access to all necessary documents and information used both during the construction process, and after the building has been completed.

Sponsoring Firm: R. L. Engebretson Holding, Inc., Fargo, North Dakota

Graduate Research Assistant: Joshua Muckenhirn

Principal Investigator: Dr. Ganapathy Mahalingam

Date: Fall 2013

Integration of LEED Performance Criteria in a BIM Model

Project Description: The Design Team assigned to the project in the Department of Architecture and Landscape Architecture at North Dakota State University shall develop a framework and work flow to integrate LEED performance criteria into a building model using the Revit BIM software, which includes the following:

  1. Identification of relevant LEED performance criteria.
  2. Investigation of methods to integrate the LEED performance criteria with building components.
  3. Integration of performance criteria into the building model to provide for easy extraction for LEED certification analysis.

Building Information Modeling, or BIM, is the best way to manage every aspect of a project building. The only aspect that is missing is sustainability. While it may be apparent, it is not easily managed my most programs under the BIM envelope. LEED is the prominent resource for managing sustainable criteria for a project building, with incentive to award a building certification for being green. There is currently no easy or well-defined way to incorporate LEED criteria with the BIM environment. This research explores the fusion of LEED and BIM using Autodesk Revit as the central management system for a project building. The core methods in this fusion include creating a LEED template for Revit to manage supplementary documentation and using Revit parameters to define critical green building criteria for a project.

Sponsoring Firm: R. L. Engebretson Holding, Inc., Fargo, North Dakota

Graduate Research Assistant: Jakob Lawman

Principal Investigator: Dr. Ganapathy Mahalingam

Date: Fall 2013

This Web page represents the views of the author and not necessarily those of North Dakota State University.
NDSU is not responsible or liable for its contents.