An Ontology for Interactive Workspaces and Their Use Cases within Collaborative Design and Construction Practices

Open Access
Lather, Jennifer Irene
Graduate Program:
Architectural Engineering
Master of Science
Document Type:
Master Thesis
Date of Defense:
December 16, 2015
Committee Members:
  • John Messner, Thesis Advisor
  • Interactive Workspace
  • Ontology
  • Collaborative Design and Construction
With increased demand for high performance buildings and more specialized expertise for design and construction professionals, there is a demand in the building industry to develop new methods to support collaboration. One collaborative technology is building information modeling (BIM), which uses data and model sharing software to generate and share content across disciplines and organizations facilitating conveyance of building design information. For project teams, which typically contain newly formed relationships with unfamiliar individuals, and for integration of complex specialized knowledge, BIM by itself is not enough to engage participants in collaborative practices. There are both industry and research focus into developing interactive workspaces, technology and media-enabled collocated communication spaces, which are used by project teams to access and leverage digital content associated with a project design. These facilities can support large-scale visualization of models, multi-modal interaction, and aid collaboration of team members. This research investigates interactive workspaces currently used by architectural, engineering, and construction (AEC) industry teams, and their relative use cases in the design and delivery process. The steps in the research process were: (1) document the facilities; (2) develop a deeper understanding of their feature sets, attributes, and use cases; (3) develop an ontology of the interactive workspaces and use cases; and (4) validate the ontology with industry members. Documentation of facilities occurred by documenting known facilities and content search in literature and publicly available resources. Twelve interviews were conducted with interactive workspace owners/managers. Documentation of the similarities and differences in feature sets and use cases was used to develop a list of critical elements in the ontology development. The ontology was generated based on content analysis of the documented facilities and interviews with experts who have experience with using interactive workspaces. The ontology was validated through two focus group sessions with architecture, engineering, and construction industry members. The results of this research contribute to an understanding of interactive workspaces, their attributes and their use cases in collaborative project teams in the AEC industry. Through review of literature and publicly available information, 84 facilities across 60 organizations were documented: 9% government, 35% industry, 6% vendor and 50% academic. The ontology was developed to relate core concepts of interactive workspaces to use cases. The main entities include: interactive workspaces, goal, meetings/workshops, use cases, users, methods, functional capabilities, and components. The ontology presents the relationship between these entities as well as categorization types and instances. Validation of the ontology confirmed the direct relationship and organization of categories within the interactive workspace domain. A final ontology is presented to support interactive workspace implementation, development, and research purposes.