Making the Most of the Outcomes: Meaningful Methods for Translating POE Data

Presenters: Lindsey Fay, EDAC and Allison Carll-White, Ph. D., FIIDA, FIDEC

While practitioners continue to embrace the use of evidence-based design (EBD) as a vehicle for informed decision-making, they are often unclear on how to translate research findings into practical applications (Hamilton, 2007). As Haq and Pati (2010) suggest, “The interaction between [the designer] and the evidence is a crucial component of EBD that has not attracted much attention” (p. 77).  The evidence-based design process identifies the use of post-occupancy evaluations (POEs) as a significant methodology for testing the applicability of research findings to the built environment. Yet too often literature describing POEs simply ends with the reporting of findings rather than suggesting how this knowledge feeds forward. This raises the question: how can we re-envision the translation of evidence to better incorporate it into design practice? This presentation will illustrate a collaborative, full cycle post-occupancy evaluation conducted in an academic emergency department to demonstrate methods of planning a POE, capturing meaningful data, and applying outcomes through the use of a design charette to address issues uncovered by the research. 

A specific objective for the design charette was to utilize evidence to reconceive one area of the emergency department through a series of exercises that developed a deeper understanding of the needs of staff, patients, and visitors.  Evidence from the POE was gathered using a conceptual framework that assessed the interrelationship between the built environment, user experiences, and operational outcomes of the emergency department. Data collection and analysis utilized objective and subjective measures yielding both qualitative and quantitative data. Research findings from behavioral mapping, physical measurements, questionnaires, and focus groups yielded significant insights that framed the scope and focus of the design charette.

To better illustrate how research findings can be more actively integrated into design practice, the researchers shared an abbreviated report with the emergency department design team that outlined major research findings and charette objectives and deliverables. On the day of the charette, research results were presented that served to stimulate discussion. Teams of researchers and practitioners completed charette exercises structured around a human-centered design approach that included an activity analysis, the development of user profiles, user flow charts, and proposed revisions to the space. Each team shared their outcomes by identifying what attributes of the design responded to the research and the healthcare provider’s guiding principles, and those that contributed to creating a positive user experience within the facility. 

The full cycle of this POE process demonstrates systematically conducting, analyzing, and integrating research into the design process. The significance of the data collected in POE research is not apparent without the application of research findings. The use of a design charette to apply findings from the POE research presented an opportunity for designers to rethink an existing design and develop familiarity with the POE framework and methodologies, thus demonstrating the importance of evidence-based design. It was determined that the use of a design charette was instrumental for the integration and application of research findings and helped bridge the gap between designers, researchers, and most importantly, users of the built environment.


  • Hamilton, D. K. (2007). Bridging design & research. Health Environments Research & Design Journal, 1(1), 29-30. Retrieved from
  • Haq, S., & Pati, D. (2010). The research-design interaction: Lessons learned from an evidence-based design studio. Health Environments Research & Design Journal, 3(4), 75-92.

View final presentation file presented at the Annual Conference.

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