Early prototype of an interlocking cellular pneumatic assembly system, which informs the research of Upjohn Research Grant recipients Kathy Velikov and Geoffrey Thün.

Early prototype of an interlocking cellular pneumatic assembly system, which informs the research of Upjohn Research Grant recipients Kathy Velikov and Geoffrey Thün.

Credit: K. Velikov and G. Thün

The AIA’s Upjohn Research Initiative on Nov. 6 announced its 2013 grant recipients, which focus on improving the building envelope and occupant health. In its seventh year, this year's grant awards a combined $150,000 to five 18-month-long projects that aim to evolve industry best practices. Past winners include projects such as energy modeling for residential structures and the development of methods to incorporate biosynthesis in building systems.

Learn more about each of this year’s winning proposals below. The AIA declined to provide a breakdown of the funding amounts by recipient.

“Daylighting Design Performance Criteria for Alzheimer Care Facilities, Towards Evidence-based Best Practices for Improved Care”
Principal investigator: Kyle Konis, AIA, assistant professor of architecture, University of Southern California
The task of daylighting long-term care facilities requires establishing a balance between the health benefits associated with access to natural light and the structure’s energy performance goals. Konis and his research team will look at the impact of daylight’s timing, intensity, and duration on residents at four urban Alzheimer’s care facilities with the goal of improving the design and operation of similar structures built in the future.

“Tenant Engagement in High Performance Buildings and Communities”
Principal investigator: Julie Kreigh, AIA, Kreigh Architectural Studios, Bainbridge Island, Wash.
No matter how sustainable a structure is, buy-in among occupants is central to realizing the benefits of its green features. Through an EcoDistrict pilot in the Pacific Northwest—which helps to manage and fund grassroots urban renewal projects—the research team will look at what it calls “behavior change,” investigating how tenant engagement affects environmental performance in residential buildings and communities.

“Learning Environments Design and Diversity”
Principal investigator: James Determan, FAIA, principal at Hord Coplan Macht, Baltimore, and instructor at Morgan State University, Baltimore
How should the way in which students learn impact the design of education spaces? Dynamic curriculum that targets the individual student while promoting group collaboration—a burgeoning trend in the field of education—may require designers to rethink how they structure learning areas. Determan and his research team will investigate the features required to accommodate new approaches to classroom teaching.

“Sustainable Transparency: Kinetic Building Facades”
Principal investigator: Kyoung-Hee Kim, assistant professor of architecture, University of North Carolina
Kinetic façades allow building skins to dynamically adapt to changing environments. Kim and her research team will examine how kinetic facings can be used to reduce a building’s energy consumption and generate renewable energy—focusing on site conditions, façade design, system development, and performance.

“Responsive Pneumatics: Prototypes for Biologically Inspired Air-Based Envelope Systems”
Principal investigators: Kathy Velikov, assistant professor of architecture, University of Michigan, and Geoffrey Thün, associate professor of architecture, University of Michigan
Building skins are designed to help a building adapt to its climate either by thermally insulating the structure’s interior or letting it breath. This research team has been investigating the responsiveness of tension-active foil membranes to that effect and says it will use the grant money to develop full-scale prototype-based installations that can self-regulate and work with building systems.