Design Efficacy and Exploration Behavior of Student Architect-Engineer Design Teams in Shared Parametric Environments

Stephanie Bunt, Nathan C. Brown

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Increasingly, architects and building engineers use parametric modeling programs to explore design solutions as professionals and as students. However, little is known about their combined efficacy and exploration in these tools when working in mixed design teams. While disciplinarily diverse teams of designers have been shown to develop more creative design solutions, this occurs primarily when there is a conducive environment and a shared understanding of design goals. Because architects and engineers are traditionally taught to use different tools and processes to address their professional goals, indicators of students’ combined efficacy in parametric tools are unclear. In response, this research uses a conceptual design experiment to study aspects of design efficacy and the exploration behavior of student architect-architect, engineer-engineer, and architect-engineer pairs within a live parametric modeling tool. The dimensions of their collaborative exploration within the tool were recorded, and their success at achieving the desired criteria was rated by professionals. Noticeable performance differences between team types were expected, including that the mixed design teams would better balance all goals and that the homogenous teams would better address their own disciplinary criteria. However, this was not the case when working in a shared, multidisciplinary digital environment, as the teams performed similarly despite having different member composition. We discuss several factors, such as the effect of digital design feedback and the still-developing student design process, which may have relationships with the design efficacy of the teams when using the study’s parametric modeling tool. Future research can further investigate the effect of mutually approachable working environments on design team performance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1296
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Architecture
  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Building and Construction

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