Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Civil Engineering

Committee Member

Brandon E Ross, Committee Chair

Committee Member

Kalyan Piratla

Committee Member

Dustin Albright


While adaptable building design is an area of increasing interest, there are few studies with quantitative empirical data regarding which physical characteristics of buildings are most effective at facilitating adaptation. Additionally, of the few adaptability evaluation tools that focus on characteristics of physical design, little has been done by way of validation. The primary purpose of the current thesis was to evaluate the relative importance of physical design characteristics to the adaptability of buildings (the ease with which buildings can be physically modified, deconstructed, refurbished, reconfigured, or repurposed) (Ross et al. 2016). For the purpose of this thesis research, characteristics of physical design were condensed into four “dimensions”: loose fit, long life, simplicity, and layer separation. The secondary purpose was to test whether the presence of those dimensions is correlated with how decisions are made about building adaptations. This was done using expert elicitation (survey) and an analytic hierarchy process (AHP). The survey and AHP involved completing four objectives. For Objective 1, experts were asked to weight the relative importance of the four dimensions of building design to the adaptability of buildings. Utilizing the weightings determined for Objective 1, Objective 2 focused on quantifying the relative adaptability of four case-study buildings from the Clemson University campus. Experts were asked to compare the buildings based on the relative presence of the dimensions, and this was used with the dimension weightings to compute relative adaptability scores for the buildings. Results from Objective 2 are referred to as the “dimension-based” results. For Objective 3, an “example-based” approach was used as an alternative means of quantifying adaptability of the case study buildings. In this approach, relative adaptability scores were computed by having experts compare the buildings based on their attractiveness for hypothetical adaptation projects. Then to fulfill Objective 4, the two sets of relative adaptability scores from Objectives 2 and 3 were compared to determine whether the “dimension-based” and “example-based” methods gave similar results. Based on the experts’ responses, no significant differences between the dimension weightings could be demonstrated; therefore, the author recommends equal weightings for all four dimensions for use in adaptability evaluation tools. The results showed significant correlation between the two methods of scoring building adaptability, indicating that evaluating adaptability based on dimension presence reflected the adaptability of the buildings in simulated adaptation situations.



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.