This event explored the opportunities for more closely integrating the social sciences into architectural practice to advance the performance, experience, and value of the built environment.
Melissa Marsh assembled a strong array of speakers for a panel entitled, “People-Centric Built Environment: A Collaboration of Architecture and Social Science” at the AIA NY State Design Conference. For centuries, architecture has been closely allied with the physical sciences, though other types of collaborations are necessary in order to continue broadening architecture’s ability to address societal needs. Recent interdisciplinary alliances between social science and architecture have introduced research approaches and innovative tools to the field of architecture which have the potential to transform how we understand and shape the built environment.
To survey the array of practitioners and researchers working in this space, we invited Jessie Braden, head of SAVI (Spatial Analysis and Visualization Initiative) at Pratt, Evie Klein, Assoc. AIA and Ph.D. candidate at CUNY Graduate Center, Richard Wener, Professor in Environmental Psychology at NYU Poly, and Chad Smith, AIA, partner at DesBrisay & Smith Architects. Professor Wener led off the session, setting a holistic tone with a contextual history and raison d’etre for environmental psychology. Jessie Braden went over the challenges and opportunities of using digital data in planning, and Chad Smith showed recent architectural work in their research practice around health and wellness spaces. Evie Klein and Melissa Marsh (cofounders of the Social Science Research and Architecture Committee) anchored the discussion in how their work blend academic research and practice for architects and building owners, but informed by social science methodologies. The discussion tackled numerous issues AIA NY architects are fielding in their practices, while also trumpeting a call to action for contextual data usage, new user experience methods for FFE, and mindfulness against sick-building syndrome.