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Research at Sasaki: A Retrospective

Spanning the past four years, Sasaki’s first research publication dives into a range of research projects, from our sponsored research grant program and summer internship charrettes, to smaller research initiatives across the firm. To introduce the publication, Sasaki principal Martin Zogran writes about the importance of research in Sasaki’s work. Read on for his full letter, and flip through the publication to learn about the many research initiatives at Sasaki.



A Letter from the Editor

Martin Zogran is a principal and urban designer in Sasaki’s urban practice. With over 20 years of experience designing urban centers across the globe, Martin’s work with mixed-use districts and large-scale framework plans spans many scales, from small urban infill sites to large scale regional plans. He searches for creative methods to combine economic goals, regulatory requirements, and ecological systems thinking into exciting and innovative places that foster long-term value.

Research at Sasaki is a critical endeavor that advances our collective knowledge of the built environment and helps to fuel creative innovation to expand our capacity to problem-solve. From prototyping permeable pavers, to conducting ethnographic field research with underserved communities, to generating data visualization from vast public datasets, to tracking thermal efficiency in building envelopes, Sasaki advances research encompassing broad spheres of inquiry that span design disciplines.

This publication highlights many of the efforts that fall within the larger umbrella of research at Sasaki over the last five years. The following pages highlight outputs of our annual sponsored grants, internship program charrettes, long-term investigation on critical topics, as well as exciting investigations that bubble up outside the bounds of project work. It is both a celebration of past research efforts, as well as a prompt to forward these critical efforts in the future. The exploration of new ideas is fundamental to our process and outputs; we design better, together, when research is step one.

Research takes many forms at Sasaki, falling into both more formal, academic approaches, and less-structured investigations that emerge from projects and other sources inspiration identified by our varied teams. Sasaki continues to sponsor research through annual grants—providing teams the time and resources, outside of project work, to pursue a wide array of topics. The issues they touch upon are essential to the broader design fields that shape and inform our work; these research endeavors give teams the chance to collaborate across disciplines within Sasaki, and to reach out to external partners, experts, and thought leaders in the design fields to push the envelope on how we think about design.

The results of these research grants take many forms, from informational websites and web-based open source tools, to publications, exhibits, and built prototypes. Sasaki also sponsors exhibitions that delve into timely thematic issues such as approaches to resiliency and the importance of play; we publish white papers, articles and blog posts; present at conferences and panels across the globe; and nurture new voices inside and outside the Sasaki community to contribute to this broad endeavor called research.

More than ever, the competitive advantage of design firms relies on innovation, creativity, and deep technical knowledge on a wide variety of topics. Research—in its many forms—is foundational to our collective success at Sasaki. It complements and deepens our work, helps to build bonds and expertise firm-wide, and gives us an invaluable platform for engaging in dialogue with the broader design industry and the communities and clients we serve. Research is necessary for fueling the creativity and ingenuity that is a hallmark of our practice.

This document captures the enthusiasm, innovation, and hard work of many at Sasaki in the past few years. We hope that the contents within excite others and propel future research that enables continuous evolution in the approaches we take toward planning and design to shape the environments and societies in which we live.

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