Research at SmithGroup is an essential part of how we build design value for our clients and communities. Scientific inquiry affords us new mindsets and methods to advance design knowledge and answer critical questions of design practice as we work to improve the built environment. Ultimately it is about building trust in design through inquiry. Research operations at SmithGroup are shaped by our broad range of practicing experts guided by our desire for new knowledge, and fueled by our commitment to action. While the issues and challenges we face are complex, our firm’s goals for research operations are clear and straightforward. The diversity and breadth of research and development activities at SmithGroup allows us to translate original inquiry into applied practice.

investigate design impact and value research Smithgroup
Encourage experimentation and exploration
integrate advanced technology and generate new design ideas
REsearch Infographic SmithGroup
  • Our Basic Research advances experimental and theoretical work that provides new understanding and insight and is critical to the growth of foundational ideas.
  • Applied Research takes those ideas and insights and tests them in collaboration with our clients and partners. We focus heavily on data-intensive investigations, analyzing how our ideas perform in the real world to improve outcomes for people.
  • Our Experimental Development tests usability and implementation. Our technology and research experts work alongside our design teams and clients to develop new tools and refine technologies and workflows on our projects that improve team efficiency and project quality.
  • Patenting represents the ultimate refinement of our research for the market, with recent examples ranging from smart building controls to a wave-absorbing seawall system.



SmithGroup’s shared research culture is constantly evolving, fueled by our formal learning programs as well as project-centered inquiries. It is a proactive culture, seeking improvement in our work and increased value for our clients and communities. Interdisciplinary collaboration fuels our ability to advance our industry commitments to carbon reduction and to justice, equity, diversity and inclusion in our processes and outcomes.

Our research operations sit at the nexus of knowledge generation and solution development, driving us to evaluate and test our designs at every stage of their development. Our unique research programs and specialists include:


Exploration Grant Program

Each year, SmithGroup funds five staff-initiated, yearlong research projects, providing a unique opportunity for critical inquiry and discovery, and spurring ongoing firm discussion and project integration. The program includes instruction, coaching and opportunities for researchers to share and build on their work internally and externally.


Research Partners at SmithGroup

Research Partnerships

Through our ongoing grant-funded, peer-reviewed research with notable industry partners like the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Oakridge National Lab and the National Renewable Energy Lab, we work to develop new products and processes and to share those advances for industrywide benefit and impact rather than competitive advantage.

PACT Researc

Performance Analytics and Climate-Impact Team (PACT)

Experts in parametric modeling and analysis, our Performance Analytics and Climate-Impact Team leads the industry in net-zero strategy and design innovation.


TIP for Research

Technology in Practice (TIP)

The firm’s Technology in Practice group features transdisciplinary scientists and strategists who investigate and adapt new technologies and develop tools and applications that improve design products and processes.

Building Technology Research Page

Building Technology

By gathering and leveraging more comprehensive data sets, SmithGroup’s Building Technology group puts us at the forefront of data-driven solutions that significantly improve building performance.

POE SmithGroup

Post Occupancy Evaluation (POE)

Measuring actual design use and performance is critical to the advancement of our profession and practice. SmithGroup’s Building Tech. group is advancing Post Occupancy Evaluation (POE) by new methods and tools for collecting meaningful performance data. These include user surveys and interviews, sensors to monitor building-systems performance and occupant counts over time, and the observation and mapping of space use.

Our Sensor Lab initiative uses environmental sensors installed in SmithGroup offices to collect extensive performance data over time. Deep and expanding data sets allow us to explore the evolving relationship between space and human comfort, satisfaction and well-being – and to apply that knowledge directly to our projects.



Contact Us

Elizabeth Vandermark
Senior Principal, Director of Research

(734) 717.6702
liz.vandermark [at]