Research Task Force

The American Institute of Architects Committee on Architecture for Education newly formed Research Task Force seeks to become a national interdisciplinary working group focusing attention on the influential interactions, dynamics and cultural influences that occur within and around physical learning environments in which the learner, teacher, content, and affordances interact within the context of the built environment.

As architects, designers and planners we recognize the majority of literature regarding learning environments and the learner is drawn from specialized fields of applied research including sociology, environmental studies, psychology, public health, educational philosophy, curriculum and learning theory (including brain science), etc. We believe the wealth of knowledge already available across disparate disciplines increases our need to promote cross-disciplinary collaboration between those responsible for designing evidence-based learning spaces for 21st century capacities and those who are embedded in education and academic research. We also understand there is a plethora of evidence missing from our understanding of these complex interactions and seek to promote both innovative and applied research projects.

2015 Agenda: Establishing a Mission

The Research Task Force aims to position research as a knowledge asset for the American Institute of Architects Committee on Architecture for Education members and affiliated organizations by establishing a research agenda reflective of contemporary themes and needs. In addition to establishing an agenda; over the next nine months we will prioritize relevant topic domains, empower practitioners who are leading innovative design and research initiatives, define goals that promote the translation of expertise from outside disciplines into design and education, and provide relevant resources for members.

Dina Sorensen, Associate - VMDO Architects | Chair, AIA CAE Research Task Force

Caroline Lobo PhD, Principal - suoLL Architects | Co-Chair, AIA CAE Research Task Force

2015 Task Force Advisors

  • Peter Barrett, MSc PhD DSc FRICS – Professor in the School of the Build Environment, University of Salford, UK
  • Jeri Brittin, Associate IIDA – Researcher at University of Nebraska Medical Center, College of Public Health; Research Associate at HDR Inc.
  • Karen Dobkins, PhD – Professor in the Department of Psychology, Univeristy of California San Diego
  • John Paul Eberhard, FAIA – AIA National Director of Research + Planning; Founding President of ANFA
  • Eve Edelstein, PhD, March – President of Innovative Design Science; Professor at New School of Architecture and Design
  • Chris Lehmann – Founding Principal of Science Leadership Academy, Philadephia; Author
  • Tiina Mäkelä, PhD – Researcher at University of Jyväskylä (Finland)
  • Margaret R. Tarampi, Ph.D. - Junior Research Fellow in the SAGE Center for the Study of the Mind, University of CA - Santa Barbara
  • Patrick Tolan, PhD – Professor in the Curry School of Education, University of Virginia; Director of Youth-Nex
  • Matthew Trowbridge, MD, MPH – Physician, Researcher, & Associate Professor at the University of Virginia School of Medicine

(please scroll down for full bios)

If you are interested in joining the effort, please contact

2014 Academy of Neuroscience for Architecture (ANFA) Conference

Thursday, September 18, 2014
Calit2 – University of California San Diego, CA
Salk Institute for Biological Studies, La Jolla, CA

Friday, September 19, 2014
Salk Institute for Biological Studies, La Jolla, CA

Saturday, September 20, 2014
Salk Institute for Biological Studies, La Jolla, CA

Download ANFA 2014 Abstract Volume

Learn more about the Academy of Neuroscience for Architecture

Building Research Information Knowledgebase (BRIK)

A collaborative effort of the American Institute of Architectsand the National Institute of Building Sciences, the Building Research Information Knowledgebase (BRIK) is an interactive portal offering online access to peer-reviewed research projects and case studies in all facets of building, from predesign, design, and construction through occupancy and reuse.

BRIK offers a user-friendly approach to those involved in creating the built environment—from researchers to clients to builders to designers to occupants—to help them find the building research, information, and knowledge they need to design, build, own, and operate high-performance buildings.

Innovative Learning Environments: Design Awards Meets Research Evidence

The American Institute of Architects Committee on Architecture for Education (CAE) grants annual design awards to educational facilities that exceed expectations through innovation, exemplify quality design, and further the goals and missions of the clients. As the 2012 American Institute of Architects (AIA) Education Research Scholar, Kelly selected four schools from the past three years of award winners to serve as case studies based on the stated project challenges and features, the success of those goals, and the impact on education. As a way to further examine the award-winning schools, her research attempts to understand the design qualities and features, how they are used by the building occupants, and combine the design information with research to support learning and teaching.

« View report and case studies including: Mothers’ Club Family Learning Center; Learning Spring School; Redding School of the Arts; Kathlyn Joy Gilliam Collegiate Academy

Research Scholar Kelly Martinez, Assoc. AIA

The AIA Committee on Architecture for Education’s 2012 research scholarship recipient is Kelly Martinez. Kelly is a recent graduate for the University of Minnesota, College of Design with a Master of Architecture and was selected from an applicant pool of several highly qualified emerging professionals.

Under the mentorship of members of the CAE leadership group, Kelly has conducted post occupancy research on several geographically diverse education projects. Three research case studies were selected by Kelly from among the last three years of National AIA-CAE design awards projects. The projects were evaluated based on stated project goals, the success of those goals and the impact of the project on teaching and learning.

View Kelly's profile, research application, and her comprehensive case studies. Download Kelly's presentation made at the National School Supply Equipment Association (NSSEA) conference.

AIA-CAE Research Task Force Advisors - 2015

Dr. Peter Barrett, MSc PhD DSc FRICS

University of Salford, UK
School of the Built Environment

Dr. Peter Barrett has been in the School of the Built Environment, University of Salford since 1988. He started the postgraduate programme of research in School in 1990, becoming a professor in 1992. From 1993-6 he was Head of School and Director of the Research Institute for the Built and Human Environment; in 1998 became faculty Dean; and in 2001 Pro-vice Chancellor for Research and Graduate Studies for the whole University.

Dr. Barrett is now a research professor in the School, Member of UK High Level Group of the Construction Technology Platform and of the High Level Group of the European Construction Platform. He was recently External Examiner at the University of Cambridge for their MSt in Interdisciplinary Design for the Built Environment. Prior to Salford he was a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Building Economics at South Bank Polytechnic, London, and practiced as a Chartered Building Surveyor in industry.

Jeri Brittin, Associate IIDA

University of Nebraska Medical Center
College of Public Health
Department of Health Promotion, Social & Behavioral Health / Nebraska Medical Center
HDR Inc.

Jeri Brittin's research interests lie at the crossroads of environmental design and human outcomes including health and wellbeing, learning, and productivity: (1) Bridging the translational gap between scientific research and design practice; (2) Hypothesizing and testing the effects of theory- and evidence-based built environmental interventions on population outcomes; and (3) Expanding methodologies to predict, measure and evaluate the human impact of place-based initiatives.

Brittin maintains a strategic design consulting practice, and is also a research associate at HDR Architecture, focusing on effective incorporation of human- and health-oriented goals in the planning and evaluation process. Her most recent work and forthcoming publications focus on K-12 school design and physical activity outcomes. She holds degrees in mathematics, music, and interior design, and is a PhD candidate in health promotion and disease prevention research at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, College of Public Health. Before returning to school for formal design training, she held senior-level strategic marketing and management positions.

Dr. Karen Dobkins, PhD

University of California San Diego
Department of Psychology

Dr. Karen Dobkins is a professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of California San Diego, affiliated with the UCSD Human Development program (an interdisciplinary program covering a broad spectrum of issues in biological, psychological and socio-cultural development over 12 UCSD Departments emphasizing development as an essential perspective from which to understand human behavior) and the Neurosciences Program. Dr. Dobkins strives to understand typical and atypical development in terms of underlying biological mechanisms.

In addition, she now studies aspects of development other than visual development: cognitive, communicative, emotional, social and gastrointestinal development. She studies both typically developing infants/children and clinical populations - specifically, infants at risk for autism spectrum disorders (ASD), children/adolescents with ASD, and infants with congenital eye disorders and/or born prematurely. In addition to the infant/child work, her laboratory continues to study visual processing in typical adults, which she tackles with a combination of psychophysics and neural imaging (fMRI and MEG).

John Paul Eberhard, FAIA

AIA National Director of Research + Planning
Founding President, ANFA
The Dana Foundation

John Paul Eberhard graduated from the University of Illinois with a degree in architecture and immediately opened his professional office. By the time he was thirty years old he had designed more than one hundred churches (mostly small start-up missions). At that point in his life he decided to go back to school and was accepted into the Sloan Program in MIT's School of Management. After this new degree he was retained by the Sheraton Hotel Corporation to head up a research program. This set the pattern for the rest of his life as the organizer and manager of research programs.

Eberhard's clients included the American Institute of Architects, the National Academy of Sciences, and the National Bureau of Standards (now NIST). During these years he also headed architectural schools at SUNY Buffalo (1968-73) and Carnegie Mellon (1989-94). He now continues to serve as a Board member of the Academy of Neuroscience for Architecture.

Eve Edelstein, PhD, March

Innovative Design Science
New School of Architecture and Design
Research Fellow, Neuro-Architecture
Perkins & Will

Edelstein's background in clinical neuroscience (Ph.D., University College, London), Architecture (NewSchool of Architecture & Design), and Anthropology (University of California Berkeley), as well as clinical practice and research at the National Hospital for Neurology & Neurosurgery, London, MIT/Harvard Hearing Science Lab, and US Naval Medical Center & NASA informs research and translational design practice at Innovative Design Science and the NewSchool of Architecture + Design.

Dr. Edelstein takes a neuro-architectural approach includes high-tech tracking, cognitive and physiological research of relevance to the design of spaces for active learning. Edelstein directs the Design + Health Collaboratory, a consulting, educational and research network, which was selected to join the inaugural AIA Design + Health Research Consortium. Dr. Eve Edelstein contributes to the development of curricula, research and practice that explores the impact of built settings on the brain, body and behavior. Dr. Edelstein teaches neuro-architecture, environmental psychology, evidence-based design, research, virtual design, and thesis studios at the NewSchool of Architecture & Design.

Chris Lehmann, Principal

Science Leadership Academy Philadelphia

Chris Lehmann is the founding principal of the Science Leadership Academy, a progressive science and technology high school in Philadelphia, PA. From 2009-2012, the school was been recognized as an Apple Distinguished School and was named one of the Ten Most Amazing Schools in the US by Ladies Home Journal. In 2013 he co-founded the non-profit, Inquiry Schools, to help more schools create more empowering, modern learning experiences for students. As of 2015, Lehmann also serves as the Assistant Superintendent of the Innovative Schools Network for the School District of Philadelphia.

He is the 2014 winner of the McGraw Prize in Education. He has written for many education publications and has spoken at conferences all over the world, including TEDxPhilly, TEDxNYED, and the International Society of Technology in Education Conference. Lehmann is co-editor of What School Leaders Need to Know about Digital Technologies and Social Media, and co-author of Building School 2.0: How to Create the Schools We Need.

Tiina Mäkelä, PhD

University of Jyväskylä (Finland)

Tiina Mäkelä (MA in teaching) works as a researcher of innovative learning environments research field at the University of Jyväskylä (Finland). Mäkelä has participated in several national and international projects in which personal, social, physical, and/or virtual learning environments have been co-designed with various stakeholders. In her research, Mäkelä aims at creating a conceptual framework and both content- and method-related design principles for the participatory earning environment design. Her doctoral thesis, which she is currently finishing, focuses particularly on involving Finnish and Spanish students in the design of learning environments conducive to learning and well-being.

Prior to her work as a researcher, Mäkelä has worked as a teacher at various educational levels from early childhood to secondary school and university level both in Finland and in Spain. Due to her experiences of various cultural contexts, she is particularly keen in understanding both globally shared and locally specific characteristics for the 21st century learning environments.

Margaret R. Tarampi, Ph.D.

Junior Research Fellow
SAGE Center for the Study of the Mind
University of CA - Santa Barbara

Margaret R. Tarampi, Ph.D. is a Junior Research Fellow in the SAGE Center for the Study of the Mind at UCSB and a postdoctoral researcher working with Mary Hegarty in the UCSB Department of Psychological & Brain Sciences. She received her Ph.D. in Cognitive Psychology from University of Utah. She previously served as a research associate to the Academy of Neuroscience for Architecture based in San Diego CA.

Prior to attending Utah, she worked as a research assistant in the Computational Neurobiology Laboratory of Lisa Stefanacci, PhD at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, CA. With Dr Stefanacci she studied the organization of brain cells across mammalian species using histology and stereology. Tarampi graduated from Carnegie Mellon University with a Bachelor of Architecture and minors in Psychology and Architectural History in 2001. She is a Master of Architecture candidate at the Washington Alexandria Architecture Center of Virginia Tech. Her thesis is titled "Neuro-architecture: How design, designs us."

Dr. Patrick Tolan, PhD

Youth-Nex | The U.Va. Center to Promote Effective Youth Development
University of Virginia Curry School of Education

Patrick H. Tolan is Professor at the University of Virginia in the Curry School of Education and the Department of Psychiatry and Neurobehavioral Sciences in the School of Medicine. He is director of the cross-university multidisciplinary center Youth-Nex, where he leads the center's mission to promote healthy youth development, to enhance the potential of youth as productive citizens and to reduce developmental risk, through focused research, training, and service.

For over 30 years, Dr. Tolan has conducted many research studies on youth development, including programs to understand and affect youth violence. He leads the Chicago Youth Development Study: the 24-year longitudinal study of development of young men residing in inner-city Chicago. His studies have shown methods to promote healthy development in high-risk US communities, how multiple factors interdependently predict violence risk, how violence exposure is related to violence perpetration, and how family and neighborhood conditions affect delinquency and violence. His latest book is Disruptive Behavior Disorders.

Dr. Matthew Trowbridge, MD, MPH

Associate Professor
Department of Emergency Medicine,
Department of Public Health Sciences
University of Virginia School of Medicine
Senior Research Fellow
U.S. Green Building Council

Matthew Trowbridge is a physician, public health researcher, and associate professor at the University of Virginia School of Medicine. Dr. Trowbridge's academic research focuses on the impact of architecture, urban design, and transportation planning on public health issues including childhood obesity, traffic injury, and pre-hospital emergency care. His academic research also includes the influence of land use patterns such as urban sprawl on traffic injury rates and the pre-hospital emergency system performance and the application of emerging sensor, mobile, and data science technologies within built environment and public health research.

Dr. Trowbridge currently serves as a Senior Research Fellow at the U.S Green Building Council leading a partnership with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation focused on improving consideration of public health outcomes within the real estate industry. He is board certified in both general pediatrics and preventive medicine and obtained his medical and public health training at Emory University.