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Azadeh Sawyer - Carnegie Mellon University. Pittsburgh, PA, US

Azadeh Sawyer

Assistant Professor | Carnegie Mellon University


Azadeh Omidfar Sawyer's interdisciplinary research focuses on quantitative and qualitative methods to evaluate building envelopes.


Azadeh Omidfar Sawyer's interdisciplinary research focuses on quantitative and qualitative methods to evaluate building envelope, its effect on lighting, and occupants’ comfort and visual impressions. One goal is to address how “green” design can result in comfortable and aesthetically pleasant design. Sawyer focuses on evaluating and minimizing the discrepancies between the design of an envelope compared to the actual experience of it. This can be achieved by bridging the gap between building technology, design quality, and by humanizing data though the use of immersive visualizations such as VR.

Areas of Expertise (5)

Green Design

Building Envelope

Design Quality

Virtual Reality

Immersive Visualization Systems

Media Appearances (2)

Guiding the Clean Energy Transition

Carnegie Mellon University  online


, a former steel mill that now serves as a state-of-the-art research facility shaping the future of advanced manufacturing and sustainable practices. As part of the tour, guests attended several demonstrations related to manufacturing and sustainable practices: Azadeh Sawyer(opens in new window), assistant professor in building technology in CMU's School of Architecture(opens in new window), showed how she's using virtual reality to promote green building practices, allowing clients to explore how different design elements impact the user experience and energy efficiency.

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Global Energy Leaders View Innovation at Mill 19

Carnegie Mellon University  online


A third demonstration will be provided by Azadeh Sawyer(opens in new window), from CMU's School of Architecture(opens in new window), whose research focuses on how green design can also be comfortable and aesthetically pleasing for building occupants. With the help of virtual reality, Sawyer and her team can quickly prototype thousands of potential building designs and explore each one from the occupant's point of view while also evaluating its energy efficiency. "We look at different design options and see how they impact energy demand, daylight or shadows instantaneously," Sawyer said. "This is how we ensure our spaces are not depressing and lifeless. Instead, they are human-centric."

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Anniversary Event: Bachelor of Architecture Alumni Panel



Industry Expertise (4)

Architecture and Planning

Construction - Commercial

Construction - Residential


Education (3)

University of Michigan: Ph.D., Architecture 2019

University of Michigan: M.S., Architecture 2017

Harvard University:: M.S., Design Studies 2011

Articles (5)

Facade Photometry: Linking Annual Daylight Performance to Facade Design


2022 This concept paper illustrates a new simulation method to assess how building facades distribute light into interior spaces and how data from simulation studies can inform design for better facade performance. Facade photometry, a term developed by the authors, uses annual simulations and localized weather data to create temporally based illuminance and luminance distributions. This photometric chart is a unique signature of a particular facade design measured at a specific point in a specific climate. By linking data from the daylight simulation to the facade, the areas of the facade that need to be adjusted for improved performance are highlighted.

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Window View Quality: Why It Matters and What We Should Do

LEUKOS: The Journal of the Illuminating Engineering Society

2022 Window views that provide visual connections to the outdoors have been shown to have multiple positive effects on occupants (Heschong 2021). These effects include improved health, well-being (Beute and de Kort 2014), emotion (Ko et al. 2020), cognitive performance (Boubekri et al. 2020; Jamrozik et al. 2019; Ko et al. 2020), environmental satisfaction (Yildirim et al. 2007), reduced discomfort (Aries et al. 2010) and stress recovery (Ulrich 1984). A good window view may also increase the economic value of buildings (Baranzini and Schaerer 2011; Damigos and Anyfantis 2011; Turan et al. 2021). Even though many benefits from window views have been recognized, there are few design guidelines for assessing window view quality (CEN/TC 169, CEN/TC 169 2018; IWBI 2020; USGBC 2019).

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Subjective Impression of an Office with Biophilic Design and Blue Lighting: A Pilot Study


2022 This paper investigates and compares people’s subjective impression of an office with a biophilic design and blue lighting. Existing studies have examined their influence on perception separately, but how they compare is unclear. Additionally, only a few studies have used an office setting as a case study. To address this research gap, this study collected people’s ratings and rankings of four simulated interior scenes of a private office using an online survey. The scenes include blue lighting, a biophilic design with daylight and view, a biophilic design with indoor plants, and a non-biophilic baseline with conventional white lighting. A total of 284 complete responses were collected and analyzed using a mixed-effect model.

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Simulation-assisted data-driven method for glare control with automated shading systems in office buildings

Building and Environment

2021 An automated shading system is expected to effectively prevent visual discomfort associated with glare while providing adequate daylight penetration. However, the concept of visual comfort has not been well integrated into existing commercial shading systems, leaving potential for visual discomfort and resulting in occupants’ dissatisfaction. Meanwhile, advanced methods in the academic literature are not always suitable for industrial applications due to problems associated with intensive real-time computation or privacy concerns. This research aims to address this gap by developing a simulation-assisted data-driven method for glare control with automated shades. The proposed strategy utilizes data from pre-simulated daylight analyses to develop glare predictive models using machine learning algorithms.

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Imagining daylight: Evaluating participants' perception of daylight in work environments

Indoor and Built Environment

2021 This paper presents an experimental research study intended to evaluate daylight perception in work environments. The current metrics for assessing daylight in work environments involve quantifying daylight and do not provide insight into the actual appearance of the space, thus overlooking the qualitative aspects of light and their effect on occupants. Conceptual content cognitive mapping (3CM), a mixed methodology, was used to obtain participants' hierarchical knowledge structure and mental model of daylight in work environments. This method was selected to understand the end users' perception of an environment rather than measuring the physical environment. A cognitive map of 50 participants, half architects and half non-architects, was created using 3CM.

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