Creation of the Architectural Research Consortium

May 13, 2009

Orfield Laboratories announces the founding of the Architectural Research Consortium (ARC), a collaborative research organization for architects who are interested in defining and validating their projects through formal design research.

10 years ago, Orfield Labs founded the Open Plan Working Group (OPWG) to educate and share information with the user community. The premise of OPWG has been to focus design on the occupant, with the understanding that a satisfied worker is more productive and dependable. The intent has been to incorporate building-performance standards, occupancy research, and design research into architectural design projects so that the resulting projects better support the occupants’ needs and preferences, and provide for a more satisfied population. This group has been focused on end-use clients and their design teams.

OPWG has developed a number of design tools for evaluating subjective and objective building performance and occupancy satisfaction. Two of these tools – Certified Building Performance Measurement (CBPM) and Certified Building Performance Standards (CBPS) – are intended to measure occupant satisfaction, prescribe building performance, assist in performance consulting as the project proceeds, and benchmark the occupancy quality and financial values of the outcome. These tools have been used extensively in a variety of building types during the last 10 years with consistent results.

ARC is a parallel organization for architectural firms that are intent upon changing the architectural field by including research on occupancy quality, building performance, and design in architectural projects. This includes the establishment of building-performance standards and the application of pre- and post-occupancy studies, and design-research methods to projects. The firms will apply these standards, studies, and methods to at least two projects per year under one or more of the following building types:

  • Offices.
  • Hospitals.
  • Industrial/manufacturing.
  • Schools and universities.
  • Retirement residences.
  • Redevelopment/reuse.
  • Multi-family housing.
  • Research facilities.
  • Government.
  • Religious architecture.
  • Retail and entertainment.

Projects will be identically researched, and the findings will be included in an anonymous ARC database that’s accessible to ARC members as part of their efforts to establish research-based practices and proven design approaches for their particular building type. The group is expected to grow to about 100 firms over the next few years. The ARC program will employ the tools developed in the OPWG and apply them to projects with a limited number of architectural and design firms in various geographic territories. The collaborative effort will be to provide true evidence-based design, research, and consulting on projects including building performance and occupancy research. The group currently includes 10 firms with about offices in 20 states. The members range in scale from small, locally focused firms to very large national and international practices. Under discussion is the development of an architect section for in-house architects. Further information can be obtained by contacting Steven J. Orfield at Orfield Laboratories Inc.: (612) 721-2455 or [email protected].

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