Applicability of Different Decision-Making Methodologies for Selecting the Optimum Gravity System for a Medical Facility: A Case Study

Abby Severyn, Simon W. Miller, Ryan L. Solnosky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Structural engineers in the early stages of design will consider multiple system configurations, compositions, and materials, including multiple configurations within a single material, in an effort to select the best solution. When tasked to narrow down these options, engineers rely on a variety of skills, heuristics, and techniques, as well as their own expert judgement. Although there is no correct or incorrect technique, different methods could lead to different systems ultimately being selected depending on factors such as designer preference and experience with structural materials, criteria used, outside influences, design performance, and so on. For medical facilities that require higher performing solutions coupled with robust and often conflicting requirements across multiple discipline boundaries, objective decision making becomes more difficult while not overinfluencing biases in the decision process. In talking cues from engineering design, multicriteria decision-making methodologies (MCDMMs) could be a viable route for medical facility system selection. Such applications have been applied to the building industry but have not been heavily studied in the structural domain. This body of work highlights the effectiveness, usage, and applicability of MCDMM strategies for selecting structural systems given conflicting multidisciplinary criteria. MCDMMs have differing strengths and weaknesses (e.g., compensatory, voting, and rank ordering) that affect a rational decision maker's ultimate choice, which have not been explored in depth. This study compares a set of different designs across well-established multidisciplinary criteria using three powerful methodologies: analytic hierarchy process (AHP), choosing by advantages (CBA), and Pugh matrix (PM). The project was a real built medical facility where this investigation was conducted as part of a research component to a capstone design course. The resulting MCDMM outcomes show that both AHP and PM rankings are identical for the best and second-best alternatives. CBA had slightly different results yet were very comparable. Similar results are present for the lowest ranking systems; they worse systems were identically ranked with AHP and PM.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number04023033
JournalPractice Periodical on Structural Design and Construction
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 1 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Building and Construction
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)

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