Data Driven Design: Not Just “Building By Numbers”

Data Driven Design: Not Just “Building By Numbers”

Data driven design is the big thing in everything from websites to washing machines these days. Like many popular innovations, it has buzzwords and maxims aplenty. But what is data-driven design and how is it changing the way we make the spaces in which we work or live?

What Is Data-Driven Design?

Data driven design takes data collected from real-world cases and uses it to the design process more efficient and productive. It relies on qualitative as well as quantitative data, asking not just how people behave, but why. The information is sorted and compared using powerful algorithms that make the information come alive for designers and clients.

In data driven design, it’s important to draw your data from as many sources as possible. A broad dataset paints a richer, clearer picture of how people use whatever it is you’re assessing, from workplace habits, to traffic patterns or energy usage. And to get a broad set of data, you need to ask more questions. For example, urban redevelopment projects look not just at the physical site but at the broader surrounding area and ask how a project will impact health, crowding, the environment, and the economy of the neighborhood and the entire city. The more metrics the designer can draw on, the deeper impact data will have on the design.

Applying Data to the Design Process

With data driven design, designers can use the data they collect and quickly iterate through multiple design options, shortening the the time to the final stage while saving money in the long run. The data and information from one project also can be used in the future, allowing the lessons learned on one design to inform later efforts.

Data can show designers how people use real spaces, making designs more efficient and elegant. These insights also can lead to innovations that more accurately reflect how people actually live – rather than defining it.  We are currently working with a leading survey index & benchmarking platform to gather data on our own workplace habits as we gear up to expand our corporate headquarters in Pittsburgh, PA.  This gives us insight on what works and what doesn’t within the operational flow of our own ecosystem.  To take it a step further, we can then compare that data to relevant top performing companies in the industry through the index.  This is also a service we offer to clients.  A few client types that benefit highly from our data driven design approach include…

  • Commercial/Office
  • Education (Higher Ed & K12)
  • Healthcare

Finally, the whole process can be automated in many places. Algorithms can produce thousands of preliminary designs based on various criteria and then whittle them down to a small core of the best options. For example, in 2012, design firm Aditazz won the Small Hospital, Big Idea competition with a design that was largely developed by algorithms.

The Future is Data

And the biggest players know it. Google purchased Nest, makers of smart thermostats, for $3 billion in 2014. Practically every product from the HVAC system to the floor itself will collect and transmit data, and that information is key to completing projects in less time, for less money, and with greater regard for the people who actually use the space every day.

Desmone Architects is excited to continue exploring data driven initiatives in our current and future projects. To follow our journey, sign up for our newsletter below.


    – Andrew Opalinski, Marketing Manager

    About the author: Andrew Opalinski is the Marketing Manager at Desmone Architects.  A graduate of the McKenna Business School at Saint Vincent College and a HubSpot certified expert Digital Marketer, his vision aligns with Desmone’s progressive approach on design, innovation, and superior client relations.