Boston Chapter - Daylight Simulation: Research and Practice

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Daylight Simulation in Practice: As the building industry accrues a wide set of computational methods and metrics to evaluate daylight and glare, the useful application of these methods in design requires a more strategic mindset. The more methods that we establish, the more important it becomes to appropriately match them to the level of information known at the various stages of design. Here we will present the full range of techniques that we use to ensure daylight, visual comfort, and visual access to the outdoors at each phase of our process. Starting with simple direct sun and view studies in early design to identify suitable areas of the floor plan, we move gradually to more advanced glare and daylight autonomy simulations as we develop concepts for how occupants inhabit the space.

Daylight Simulation Research: Alstan will review five recent or ongoing research projects on daylighting and human-centric design: a new method for measuring and simulating trees, a conceptual design for active cooling in urban spaces, passive architectural design analysis in the tropics, the creation of a materials database for lighting simulation, and the development of new daylighting standards in Singapore.

Heliotropic Shading Daylighting a Rare Books Reading Room with Electrochromic Glass and Parametric Analysis: Re-purposing a long daylit atrium into a rare books reading room at Princeton University requires a high degree of solar control. After multiple iterations, the design team settled on electrochromic glazing, begetting the question of how to control over 900 tintable zones. Weissman developed an algorithm that allows the skylight to ‘follow’ the sun throughout the day and year, optimized to provide required shading for conservation criteria, and all while maintaining views. Perfectly tuned to its locale and adapted to the architecture, the pattern created by each scene state is a constantly evolving expression of the exact daylight-control needed at each moment.


Alstan Jakubiec is an Assistant Professor at the Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD) where he leads the Design for Climate and Comfort lab. He holds a PhD in Building Technology from MIT as well as bachelor’s and master’s degrees in architectural design. Alstan teaches courses on architectural energy, lighting, and sustainable urban design at SUTD. His research expertise is in daylighting, visual and thermal comfort, and energy performance. Alstan is also a main developer of the DIVA-for-Rhino sustainable design tool for energy and daylight analysis.

Christopher Mackey joined Payette as a Building Scientist in 2015 after finishing both his Masters of Architecture and Masters of Science in Building Technology at MIT. He is one of the primary developers of the Ladybug + Honeybee environmental analysis plug-ins for Rhino/Grasshopper, which are regularly applied at Payette and across the globe by a community of over 50,000 people.

Alejandra Menchaca is a Senior Building Scientist at Payette, where she leverages her background in mechanical engineering and building science to provide project teams with advanced sustainable design knowledge and energy modeling expertise, and improve the firm's understanding of the impact of design strategies and innovative solutions on building performance. She holds a Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from MIT, and has lectured at the Harvard GSD and at MIT.

Dan Weissman is an Associate and Director of Lam Labs at Lam Partners in Cambridge, MA. A registered architect and award winning lighting designer, Dan leads the firm’s endeavors in digital technologies, daylighting, and academic engagement. Dan is also a Co-Founder of, and a Faculty member at Boston Architectural College.