Date of Award

August 2020

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Civil Engineering

Committee Member

Brandon E. Ross

Committee Member

Patricia A. Layton

Committee Member

Dennis C. Bausman

Committee Member

Steve R. Sanders


In order to promote resiliency and sustainability, there is a benefit to making buildings more adaptable. Adaptable buildings are believed to be more likely to be modified, changed, or reused instead of being demolished. The research goals revolved around understanding what features, if any, can be implemented during the design phase to make a building more adaptable in the future. Three objectives were included for this research:

1. Compare qualitative data from real-world adaptation projects with Design for Adaptability (DfA) strategies reported in the literature.

2. Create a model for quantifying the “openness” of floorplans.

3. Measure the relationship (if any) between design-based adaptability (DBA), building condition (BC), historical/sentimental value (HS) and adapt/demo outcomes. This objective tests the null-hypothesis that HS, BC, or DBA are not significant predictors for the demolition and adaptation outcome of projects.

The research presented in objective one was conducted to answer the question: Do empirical data from real-world projects align with the Design for Adaptability (DfA) strategies reported in the literature? To answer this question, a Thematic Analysis was used to evaluate qualitative data from 89 building adaptation projects. The research evidence suggests that when DfA strategies are present in a building design (intentionally or otherwise), they facilitate adaptation. Similarly, when the strategies are not present, the adaptation project is impeded. This research provides empirical support for implementing DfA strategies into new building designs.

The second objective was the creation of the Areal Openness Model (AOM) to answer the question “how open is open in adaptable floor plans”, partly motivated by the link between openness and adaptability. Case study comparisons are presented to show proof of concept evaluation of AOM with adapted and demolished buildings. The proposed AOM provides a means of quantitatively measuring openness as it relates to adaptability. Future potential is for designers and owners to use the model to evaluate building design alternatives with respect to adaptability.

The third objective was to measure the relationship (if any) between historical/sentimental status (HS), building condition (BC), and design-based adaptability (DBA) and adapt/demo outcomes. A quantitative assessment of demolished and adapted buildings was conducted using a logistic regression model of 88 projects that are either adapted or demolished. The assessment was particularly focused on evaluating the impact of design-based adaptability on adapt/demo outcomes. The research reveals that the historical and sentimental status of the building is statistically significant to the outcome of adaptation. Building condition and design-based adaptability are also positively related to adaption outcomes but not to a statistically significant level.



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