Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2012

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

First Advisor

Zhiqiang (John) Zhai

Second Advisor

ml Robles

Third Advisor

Moncef Krarti


Consideration of beauty in the built environment is growing within the building sector as the broader concept of sustainable building design replaces the more narrowly defined concepts of high performance or green building. Similarly, as building design teams become more integrated, pairing architects, engineers, construction managers, and other professionals, the concepts of beauty and energy performance are approached collectively.

In research led by ml Robles, NCARB Architect at the PatternMapping institute, characteristics representative of beautiful buildings were identified and metrics and criteria relating these beauty characteristics to building energy performance were compiled to form a qualitative evaluation tool. A sample of 35 case studies contrasting high performing with inspiring and high performing buildings were evaluated for building performance relative to both beauty and energy using the qualitative evaluation tool. Results indicated that the inspiring and high performing buildings included building systems or features that more consistently provide an experienced connection between the occupants, the built environment, and ultimately the surrounding environment.

Building energy models representing distinguishing building systems or features identified from the qualitative evaluation were developed for quantitative evaluation of energy performance through energy simulation. Relative importance to beauty and energy performance of each of the building systems or features was determined and presented as color-scaled quantitative references. The color-scaled references illustrated that building systems or features that exhibit density - combination of multiple systems - in their designs offered better performance relative to both beauty and energy.

The qualitative evaluation tool and the color-scaled quantitative references developed in this research provide useful tools for architects and engineers seeking to design built environments that are both inspiring and high performing.