Applied Research Consortium

March 10, 2023

Proposed ARC projects for 2023-2024

ARC member firms have submitted the following project proposals for academic year 2023-2024. Faculty are invited to nominate students whose research interests align with at least one of the following proposed projects. Information about ARC and eligibility criteria can be found here. To nominate a student, please submit this form. Questions can be directed to ARC Program Manager Teri Thomson Randall,


(DLR Group note: For all topics, we are looking for an ARC Fellow who can suggest the specific sub-topic or research question they’re interested in. All of these topics offer the chance to utilize planning and design projects as case studies and/or sources of study participants. Depending on schedules there is the opportunity to work directly on upcoming client assessments.)

Inviting Pluralism in Sense of Belonging for K-12 Learning Environments

    • When Districts ask designers to support Sense of Belonging, how can designers respond in a way that acknowledges and incorporates the diversity of potential user groups in a K-12 learning environment?
      • How can a pluralistic view be incorporated into Sense of Belonging in a learning environment?
    • How does Sense of Belonging correlate to school safety. How does this correlation vary across diverse user groups?
    • Can address one or more potential lenses: ex. racial equity, multi-cultural/transnational, cognitive diversity, social-emotional learning categories, or others.

Measuring Impact for Racial Equity in K-12 Districts

    • Research methods for post-occupancy studies at schools with plans or designs guided by a racial equity lens.
      • What are appropriate measures of success for different stakeholder groups?
      • What are successful interventions or change strategies associated with measurable success?
      • How does this topic intersect with the design approach of Targeted Universalism?
    • Can be approached from multiple angles, including technology such as GIS.

Driving Design with Community-Based Organizations

    • How can a design firm build on existing community partnerships (ex. Districts, Municipalities, Owners, Developers, Community Groups) through a design process that is led by those partners, and not the architect?
    • In what ways does CBO-driven design align with or run contrary to traditional and emerging narratives about project roles in industry?
    • How does CBO-driven design affect project timelines, budgets, work plans, or delivery methods/schedules?


Reinventing a Design Process with AI

Explore the integration of machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) within various phases of the design process. This could include ML and/or AI for generative landscape and architectural design, 3d model generation, facade design, script generation, spatial adjacency exploration, automation, QA/QC, construction documentation, analysis and prefabrication optimization. Exact research question and scope to be developed in collaboration with the student fellow, faculty advisor, and the firm advisors.


Parametrically Designed Complex Formwork Kit of Parts

Continuing Turner’s success with semi-standardized digitally fabricated formwork, this ARC topic will explore parametric workflows for designing concrete formwork parts. Turner’s Virtual Design and Construction Department (VDC) is modeling the concrete formwork for the Seattle Aquarium’s Ocean Pavilion. While the current modeling workflow uses parametric scripts to design the formwork, these scripts are tailored to individual concrete shapes.

Our future ARC research will build upon the manual existing workflow, with the goal of automating the process using parametric scripting applicable to any concrete shape. This will allow for the generation of formwork assemblies without the need to rework the scripting parameters. Currently the workflow uses Rhino 3d and Grasshopper software applications. A potential additional scope of the research may be the integration of structural analysis to validate the structural integrity of the design. The formwork design will be produced using CNC fabrication and physical structural testing may also be applied to validate strength assumptions within Turner’s digital fabrication shop and warehouse space.


Community Engagement Toolkit

There are significant benefits of incorporating stakeholder, user, and community engagement to inform built environment design from visioning to post-occupancy performance and operations, yet there is little consistency in how the engagement is implemented in projects. What are the best tools and methodology to engage stakeholders and community members towards providing actionable feedback for design teams? How can we empower designers to create their own engagement process customized to their project goals?

Social Justice in Building Materials

Many building products can seem benign in use but actually have slavery and racism built into their supply chains. What are the common processes used to create standard building materials including the hidden hotspots that designers should be aware of?


Designing for Health, Healing, and Wellbeing in the Built Environment 

The following investigations are initial science-based explorations to bolster NBBJ’s aspiration to heighten the positive impact of the built environment on the health and well-being of building occupants. These focus areas directly relate to issues and opportunities within NBBJ’s health+ and corporate markets and provide the ability to actively apply what is learned. Previous studies have included Reducing Stress in the Clinical Workplace, Understanding the Impact of Space on Creativity, and Mitigating Acoustic Challenges in the Workplace.

Click here to view background, project description, and resources for each proposed investigation.


Elevating Healing / Provoking Brain Activity through Projection Mapping 


Encouraging Movement through Intentional Design Interventions 


Creating a Digital Twin for Healthcare 


Leveraging Biology to Improve Materiality and Fabrication 


Elevating Healing / Provoking Brain Activity through Projection Mapping 


Rethinking “Waste(d)land” 


Breaking the Zoning Curse 


What makes space joyful? How does a building build culture? 


How does design education create and reinforce unconscious bias? 


What is the psychology behind loyalty?