Architectural research

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Helping empower architects to use and engage in research to advance their firm, profession, and industry.

In a period of profound social, technological, and environmental shifts, the built environment must respond to the changing conditions facing communities, organizations, and individuals in ways that enhance human experience and well-being, minimize costs, maximize efficiency, optimize resources, and enhance quality of life.

Buildings in the United States are tremendously impactful—contributing a significant share of GDP. Architects play a critical role in the outcome of these buildings, which affect all levels of scale—from the individual to larger society. Yet the research available for study of architecture and buildings is disproportionate to its impact.

The AIA is calling for:

  • Increased investment through new and expanded funding, both private and public.
  • Prioritize research within the architect core competencies and firm culture.
  • Continue and expand dissemination of research and promote exchange of findings, as well as increase research literacy.

Our action plan

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Research topics

There are three scales of influence architectural research can affect. The AIA calls for and supports research across all of these scales: individual/human, industry sector and building function, and community and societal.

While we have organized work into these scales, we recognize and appreciate how much more expansive some areas of inquiry are, as well as the crossover and intersections among the different scales and disciplines.


At the heart of our built environment are the occupants of buildings, whether they be homes or offices, or schools or other building types. According to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Americans spend 87% of their time inside buildings, making the built environment they inhabit critical.

There are three research themes at this scale. While these themes overlap, we believe they constitute different applications and therefore are worth separate delineation.

  1. Human behavior: The understanding of how a building design can improve human performance, including the metrics, measures, and methods necessary in order to evaluate the impact of buildings on the human experience
  2. Health and well-being: The ways a building influences the occupants’ health. This includes the occupants’ safety, as well as their physical and mental health status.
  3. Neuroscience: The understanding of how the human brain reacts to stimulus and its impact on behavior and cognitive function

Image credits

illustration of people in a small town