College of Liberal Arts & Sciences

Hui Cai, Ph.D.

School of Architecture & Design - Architecture
Associate Professor
Associate Director, Institute of Health and Wellness Design, The Department of Architecture
Ph.D., Georgia Institute of Technology
Primary office:
Marvin Hall, 418
University of Kansas
1465 Jayhawk Blvd
Lawrence, KS 66045
Second office:


Dr. Hui Cai is the Associate Professor and Associate Director of the Institute of Health and Wellness Design at the School of Architecture and Design. Prior to joining the faculty, she taught at the University of Missouri, Columbia. She also served as the Health + Science research leader and designer at RTKL Associates in Dallas. Cai received her Ph.D. degree in evidence-based design from the Georgia Institute of Technology after several years of architectural education and practice in China and Singapore.

She has strong interests in cross-cultural studies on healthcare design. Her dissertation was the first of its kind, exploring the cultural dimensions of nursing unit designs under a holistic framework encompassing the national and organizational culture of healthcare. It provides a comprehensive comparison between the U.S. and Chinese nursing unit typologies with quantitative metrics through space syntax analysis.

Dr. Cai's current research focus is using a performance-driven and evidence-based design approach to analyze the relationship between culture, human behavior, and the physical environment, especially in healthcare settings. Her research activities include conducting post-occupancy evaluations (POE) on healthcare facilities and other buildings.

She proposes that rigorous analytical tools including Space Syntax Analysis and Discrete Event Simulation can link the physical environment with human behavior and organizational performance with quantifiable metrics. The goal is to use the knowledge from POE and analysis on existing design practices to inform future design recommendations and guidelines.

She has both presented at several international conferences and published several papers in peer-reviewed journals on the relationship between culture, human behavior and physical environment. In 2011, the International Academy of Design and Health recognized her with the prestigious International Academy Award in Research for her work in linking spatial configurations of nursing units with communication and coordination among care givers.


Ph.D., Georgia Institute of Technology
M.A., Architecture, National University of Singapore
B.Arch, with highest honor, Southeast University


Cai's goal for teaching students is closely related to her evidence-based design research endeavors. She focuses on developing students' critical thinking capabilities and their consciousness of the links between architecture, behavior, and culture.

Teaching Interests

  • Evidence-based Design
  • Healthcare design
  • Health and wellness

Research Interests

  • Healthcare design
  • Evidence-based design
  • Performance-driven design
  • Communication
  • Cross-cultural research

Selected Awards & Honors

The 2018-19 American Institute of Architecture-Academy of Healthcare Architecture (AIA-AHA) J. Armand Burgun Fellowship in FGI interest areas of Health Facility Planning & Design
American Institute of Architecture-Academy of Healthcare Architecture (AIA-AHA)
2018 - 2019
Honorable mention, Union of International Architects-Public Health Group (UIA-PHG) Young Architects and Students Design International Competition 2017
Union of International Architects-Public Health Group (UIA-PHG) Young Architects and Students Design International Competition 2017
Best Practice Institute from Center for Teaching Excellence
Center for Teaching Excellence
Best Group Graduate Dissertation in 2015
Nanjing Tech University, China
The 2011 Best International Research Project
Design & Health International Academy
Healthcare Environment Award 2018-19, student category
The Center for Health Design and The Contract Magazine
2018 - Present

East Asia Events

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