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34CE - Expanding Context: Understanding User Needs and Data Inputs

24 May 2018 2:00 PM - 3:30 PM

1.5 ConEd Learning Hours

People are using spaces differently, and their needs are becoming more complex. Data and information are more widely available, and our clients are expecting our recommendations to rely on more than just ‘professional intuition.’ Existing architectural models of learning mostly from experience are no longer acceptable for clients seeking a measurably successful design.

On the other hand, simply referring to ‘big data’ findings without context or interpretation will only result in a partial understanding as flawed as designing in a vacuum. A toolkit of both analytical and empathy-based inputs is required to properly translate user needs and other data-points into a design, and post-occupancy observations are critical to refine these techniques to support ever more complex future requirements. 

This session introduces attendees to the existing and emerging tools available to help designers and architects better understand their client and user groups needs using a context-driven design approach. It will also highlight findings from post-occupancy research into how spaces are used beyond opening day, and current trends in human-centric design. Integrated into the design process, these tools can allow us to create some truly innovative solutions that will serve clients from opening day well into the future.

Learning Objectives

  1. Learn about existing and emerging analytical tools for understanding user needs.
  2. Understand the importance of balancing both data-based and human-centric information.
  3. Learn how user-inputs can be incorporated into the design-process.
  4. Understand how post-occupancy observations can aid future designs.


Erin Corcoran, OAA

Erin Corcoran is an internationally experienced architect and design strategist with a passion for truly understanding her client’s needs using a mixed analytical and empathy-based design approach. Currently a part of Gensler’s Los Angeles Consulting Team, she works to develop solutions to complex space and cultural challenges for both public- and private-sector workplace clients, and post-secondary educational institutions.