Research in Practice

Research in practice is about constantly exploring, learning, experimenting and testing – all the way from concept through occupancy – to comprehensively target and achieve better outcomes through design. We focus on meaningful metrics that balance empathy with technology and address wellbeing for the individual, the organization and the larger eco-system we live in.


Upali Nanda, Ph.D.
Director of Research

Upali believes research is not just about writing reports, peer-reviewed papers or books. Nor is it about creating prescriptions for design. Rather, the purpose of research is to create the ingredients for design; to discover what works, and why it works, allowing architects to create the most amazing environments based on the best possible information and insight. She is responsible for designing, spearheading and implementing research projects domestically and abroad. Prior to joining HKS, Upali worked as a research consultant for The Center for Health Design on research, education and advocacy efforts. Her research has resulted in more than 50 publications, 36 peer-reviewed conference presentations and 16 invited talks, in addition to numerous web-based and in-person presentations for CEUs. 


HKS Functional Performance Evaluation

The HKS Functional Performance Evaluation is a multi-method tool developed by the design and research teams based on our fundamental premise that “every design decision is a performance hypothesis”. A well-designed building can improve performance at multiple levels- human, environmental and organizational. The true test of the success of a design project is its functional performance after occupancy. The FPE includes site audits, user feedback, environmental analysis and organizational success metrics. Our philosophy in collecting data is “triangulation.” We collect meaningful data using key metrics and use multiple measures before developing conclusions. The FPE provides facility owners insight into ways to improve and optimize operations through facility design, and assists design teams in understanding the consequences of their decisions and engaging in continuous improvement.