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Vital Signs Case Study Components: Building Work-Ups vs. Case Study Dossiers

The case study is comprised of two complementary artifacts: Building Workups and Case Study Dossiers. Workups are brief reports that provide a summary of the fieldwork and findings. The Case Study Dossier is an archive of reprints, photographs, interview notes, survey data, simulation results, etc. Descriptions of both follow below.

Building Workups

You could think of Building Workups as having many uses. They can inform our understanding of the subject buildings, provide fodder for lectures and articles, frame hypotheses for more detailed study, and allow the comparison of architectural intent to actual outcome. A basic outline for a Building Workup would include the following.

This should include a concise synopsis of the project and its findings.
The first section would present the case study subject (building, site, or technology) and summarize what was known about the design as the study began. This a good place to reference journal articles, books, press releases and so on that have shaped the profession's general understanding of the project.
Every building has many stories to tell. A key challenge in conducting a Vital Signs Case Study is the student development of hypotheses to focus and bound their field investigations. The hypothesis (or hypotheses) should be stated in the Building Workup.

In our experience developing a hypothesis is a sometimes difficult but very necessary step. Without losing sight of the whole building, students must develop a hypothesis that clearly defines the scope of their investigation.

Having stated a hypothesis, the next section should describe methods used to gather and analyze data addressing descriptive information, occupant response, and physical performance.
The results section should present the findings of the field work in a clear, succinct fashion. The heart of the report, this section should provide a narrative and graphic summary of findings and whether they support the hypotheses or not.

The example at left, from a seminar at UC Berkeley in Spring 1994, documents lighting use in architecture studios and efficiency gains achieved as a result of student investigation. The larger image is 36K.


This final section summarizes the investigation and conclusions regarding the investigation's hypotheses.

Any relevant information, including the Table of Contents for the associated Case Study Dossier.

So Building Workups are summaries of your study, a format where the bywords should be concise and engaging. On some occasions your audience may want more detail than the Building Workup format allows. This becomes the role of the Case Study Dossier.

Case Study Dossiers

Detailed artifacts from an investigation should be archived in a Case Study Dossier maintained by the originating institution. It is our observation that considerable effort goes into the collection of building case study artifacts and that relatively little of this material can be included in the Building Workup proper. The Case Study Dossier provides a vehicle for organizing these artifacts and offering them to students and faculty interested in further information on the building.

By their nature, the Case Study Dossiers are somewhat open-ended and thus might contain many types of artifacts. Major categories would include the following items.

Basic Building Information
A brief description of the building (an abstract), building location, awards received, building credits (e.g.; architect, contractor, owner), and contacts for information and access.
Descriptive Materials
Copies of bibliographic resources (e.g.; references in books and periodicals, press releases, URLs) and visual artifacts (e.g.; schematic drawings, construction documents, photographs, videotape.)

You'll refer to books, periodicals, drawings and other sources of information in the course of your field investigation of a building. List and briefly describe them in the case study dossier.


Case Study Hypotheses and Methods
The principal issues investigated, the methods you applied, and whether a summary Building Workup is available. This might also describe issues worthy of attention that fall outside the bounds of the current investigation.

If you use analytic tools such as a heliodon - a device for studying sun and shadow using scale models, describe your findings in the workup and include a complete record of the analysis in the dossier.


Records of Interviews
Notes from interview sessions including the date, parties involved, agenda, interview method, and content. Indicate whether a taped version of the interview is available. Candidates for interview among others include building occupants, architects, consulting engineers, lighting designers, energy analysts, architecture critics, frequent visitors, and first-time visitors.

Subjective Surveys
Full copies of any surveys used in your study. Data generated by the surveys could be available as completed forms or summaries. Indicate whether normative data are available or whether the surveys represent distinct sets (e.g.; before/after, north-side/south-side).

Physical Performance Data
Copies of physical data collected during the study. For each data set describe the methods used to gather the data, the time period they represent, and their archival format (e.g.; Excel V5.0 spreadsheet, Hobo .dtf file). Describe the variables represented by physical data and the location(s) selected for measurement. Describe the time frames for the measurements. These could range from snapshots (specify time and general conditions) to hourly annual measurements (specify measurement interval, averaging period, etc.) Other physical data may come from indirect sources such as independent monitoring efforts, operating logs, energy management control systems, or utility records. If these are available indicate their content and source.

Analysis Artifacts
The results of your analysis procedures. Intermediate forms of the data would typically be omitted from the Building Workup or other summaries. These working documents (e.g.; spreadsheet summaries, simulation outputs) can be very useful to others. Each study would generate its own type of artifacts with some matching items on the list above and others not. It is unlikely that many in the broader audience would desire access to all of these details. However, it would be an invaluable service to provide them to those academics with a specific need. The Case Study Dossier provides a vehicle for this exchange.

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All contents copyright (C) 1998. Vital Signs Project. All rights reserved.

Created: 09/09/96
Revised: 09/09/02