School of Architecture College of Design

MSRP Final Review Fall 2015 by Sarah Ward



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As I was choosing a school to pursue a Master’s of Science degree in Architecture, Heritage Conservation and Preservation, I looked for a place that takes a critical look at what is happening in architecture-related professions now and works to advance them.  My first semester as a graduate student at the U of M reaffirmed my decision by showing me the school’s outstanding commitment to furthering practice.  After experiencing the challenge of designing a research project alongside other M.S. students in a research development course taught by Kathleen Harder, PhD, I was excited to see the results at the MSRP Fall 2015 Final Review.  This was a chance for three students from the Master’s of Science in Research Practices program to show off their hard work and start a conversation about their research findings.


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Lucas Glissendorf, Jeremy Bernardy, and Jacob Cherry were able to tackle real-life research questions with vigor. Lucas and Jeremy both worked on models for health care design under the guidance of Kathleen Harder, PhD, the Director of the Center for Design in Health.  The two projects both worked towards the goal of furthering the efficiency of healthcare environments while ensuring a high level of quality care.  The depth of understanding about the consequences of various environments shown in both quantitative and qualitative ways was impressive.  Lucas’s project with HGA focused on adapting an existing iPad application to collect data on how health care professionals undergo various steps of care and how long each step takes.


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Jeremy’s work with AECOM compares two types of clinic environments.  This research can help design and health care professionals decide which layout is most appropriate for a clinic early in the design process.  It was pointed out in the review that some clinic models are more appropriate to certain populations than others.  For example, clinics in smaller cities may have a greater need for patient privacy, while clinics focusing on care for the elderly may need to prioritize patient/nurse interactions.

Jacob worked with Richard Graves, Director for the Center of Sustainable Building Research, and Mortensen Construction to analyze the risk involved in performance-based contracting.  Specifically, he confronted the issue of incorporating energy performance guarantees into contracts.  The goal is to go beyond the code and LEED standards to ensure high performing buildings.


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After each presentation, design professionals from the community, faculty, and students that attended had the chance to ask questions, make comments, and provide advice for the researchers.  The guests were engaged and excited about the projects, and it seemed that the conversations could go on and on.  After the formal portion of the review, people hung around to continue discussions with other attendees.

I feel that the energy generated in the room from the MSRP Final Reviews shows the research coming from the Master’s of Science in Architecture programs at the U of M is innovative, yet accessible for real projects in the community.  The support of the faculty, the department resources, design research centers, and the university’s connections with the professional community are instrumental to the programs’ graceful mixing of research and practice.  

After the presentations, RenĂ©e Cheng, Director of the Master of Science in Research Practices and the Consortium for Research Practices, announced the continuation of two projects, “Emerging Models of Health Care Delivery and Design,” and “Comparison of Two Clinic Planning Models: An Analysis of On-Stage/Off-Stage and Neighborhood Designs.”  In addition, she was excited to announce the start of three new projects: student Kathleen Bond working with faculty John Comazzi (Architecture) and firm BWBR on post occupancy evaluation of a school for special needs children, student Dustin Schipper with faculty Andrea Johnson (Architecture) with firm Cuningham Group on use of BIM throughout the full life cycle of a building, student Cara Prosser with faculty Abi Asolo (Interior Design) with firm Perkins + Will on workplace of the future.

For more information about the MSRP program, visit and the consortium website



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