Evidence-based design (EBD) is an innovation to the design process for design practitioners who strive to base design solutions on measurable outcomes. The issue is that of ‘evidence’—how it is identified, validated, and implemented as the framework for all design decisions in concert with programmatic information gathered by the design team versus reliance on trends- and product-based anecdotal information. In this first of a monthly series, we’ll briefly examine the different approaches to the design decision-making process and their relation to the levels of engagement with evidence.
Today, an EBD-approach has become the norm in the creation of design solutions for healthcare environments, but rarely in other building types, such as office buildings. Many practitioners rely on normative design, principally grounded in knowledge from the practitioner’s personal education and experience and that of colleagues, but is that enough?
An Associate Director of the Center for Health Systems & Design and Professor of Architecture at Texas A&M University, D. Kirk Hamilton is an expert on evidence-based design. His research focuses on the relationship of evidence-based design of health facilities and measurable organizational performance. He suggests there are four levels of design practitioners relative to their engagement with evidence and its application into the design decision-making process:
Level 1: critical interpretation of research by reading about the current literature and applying benchmarks.
Level 2: generate hypotheses for expected outcomes and measure the results (outcomes via the design solution).
Level 3: publically report outcomes from their design solutions beyond the client and invite review about their EBD methods and outcomes from others.
Level 4: welcome peer review from publication of the EBD approach to the design process, measurement methods, and stated outcomes for rigorous criticism for the bigger goal of building the body of knowledge with findings from the experience.
Each level builds on the one before it. What level are you? Do you contribute to the body of knowledge? You can, you know! Expand your knowledge base, explore new research, and publish your own finding through InformeDesign.
InformeDesign, a global EBD resource, was established in 2003 with significant funding from ASID. It provides nearly 2,500 Research Summaries that are written in practitioner-friendly language; these are each based on a referenced journal article. In 2015, InformeDesign was reimagined and provides many other EBD resources as well. A portion of the website is now intended for interior designers and industry experts to help build the profession’s body of knowledge. Contribute by visiting informedesign.org and selecting “PUBLISH” from the main menu.
Whether a design practitioner, student, educator, or industry rep, you can post your resume, CV, thesis, or dissertation. For more information, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.