Rana Zadeh


Rana Zadeh

Assistant Professor
2425 Martha Van Rensselaer Hall
Phone: (607) 255-1946 Fax: (607) 255 -0305
Email: rzadeh@cornell.edu
View Cornell University Contact Info
Biographical Statement:


Rana Sagha Zadeh, M.Arch., Ph.D., Associate AIA, LEED AP, EDAC, is a tenure-track assistant professor and the co-director of the Health Design Innovations Lab in the Department of Design & Environmental Analysis at Cornell University.

Dr. Zadeh’s interest includes healthcare design, evidence-based design and the translation and application of scientifically tested research about design innovation into real-life policy and practice to achieve the best possible health, safety, quality, and efficiency outcomes via systems approach. Dr. Zadeh’s team is currently working on several projects. One primary focus is the development of non-pharmacological system solutions to improve quality of life and manage symptoms for patients with advanced and chronic illnesses, particularly in end-of-life, geriatric, and acute care settings. Other projects include the development of novel technological, environmental, and educational interventions to improve sleep and circadian rhythms for bedbound patients; the economic evaluation of improvements in care environments; and research into how workplace design can improve alertness, productivity, efficiency, and patient satisfaction. 

Zadeh’s team is the recipient of the Novel Technology Award from the Clinical and Translational Science Center and Weill Cornell Medical College. Zadeh has also received the Center for Health Design’s 2012-13 New Investigator Award for high-quality research in the field of evidence-based healthcare facility design and the 2013 Architectural Research Centers Consortium King Medal for innovation, integrity, and scholarship in environmental design research.

 Read about the Health Design Innovations Lab:



Teaching and Advising Statement:


"My teaching style has three main emphases—communication across disciplines, engagement in real-life projects, and the concentration on innovative human-centered and evidence-based design.

1. Communication and work across disciplines is an essential skill when working as a professional in industry, academia, or government. Therefore, my classes emphasize the development and improvement of multidisciplinary dialogue among those involved in design, engineering, medicine, and business. The three DEA classes that I teach have included students from the fields of design, architecture, interior design, urban and regional planning, business administration, real estate and finance, engineering, information science, policy analysis and management, public health, global health, landscape architecture, facility management, ergonomics, environmental psychology, medicine, premedical studies, and biology and society.

2. Based on my own experiences as a student, design practitioner, and research consultant, I strongly believe in simulating real-life practices to maximize the educational benefits and motivation for learning fundamentals for our emerging professionals. The use of real-life projects presented by clients and community members creates a learning laboratory with a two-way information exchange between the students and the community partner. These current and critical projects help extend personal learning into community engagement and social justice. With real-life projects comes unpredictability. My students and I learn to embrace these experiences and build interpersonal and professional competencies. We improve our awareness about the sophistication and sensitivity of research in human environments, especially in healthcare, and describe ways to engage stakeholders in fostering positive change.

3. My teaching focuses on the concepts of design creativity, human-centered design, and evidence-based design. With the help of my students, I develop pilot models, tools, and methods to combine creativity and science and to document the lessons learned for future practical applications.

Finally, in my classes, together, we practice respect of others, tolerance of diversity, teamwork, public speaking, team leadership, personal and group reflection, and networking. Over the past two years, I have employed various rubrics and teaching aids for each of these goals."

Current Professional Activities:


Zadeh is a an elected member of the Center for Health Design’s Research Coalition, and currently serves as a volunteer on CHD’s the Agency for Healthcare Research Quality’s project to create a risk assessment tool for patient safety, is a grant reviewer for the New Investigator Award and has served on the CHD’s Behavioral Health. Zadeh is a founding member of the Nursing Institute for Healthcare Design and associate member of American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers, and a member and former president of a student chapter of the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America.

Zadeh’s professional activities go beyond research and volunteerism and has involved service learning projects for community members including Hospicare of Tompkins County, End –of-Life Care Residence (2013- current), New York Presbyterian Hospital (Spring 2015-16), Brigham & Women’s Hospital and CAMA Inc. (spring 2014), Cayuga Medical Center (Fall 2013 and Spring 2014) and Hoag Healthcare (Spring 2013).

Current Research Activities:


 "The scope of my work is on the safety, quality, and efficiency of healthcare—especially for those areas with the greatest need, such as acute settings, elderly care, and end-of-life care.

My team utilizes qualitative and quantitative methods to elicit user information, develop new evaluation methods and tools, generate novel interventions, translate the latest scientific research into practice, and evaluate the social, organizational, and economic outcomes.

As an environmental design specialist, I collaborate closely with stakeholders, community members, practitioners, and scientists. Solving complex real-life issues requires a multidisciplinary systems approach. This is why I collaborate with experts and students both in my field and in other fields, including social and behavioral sciences, policy, medicine, nursing, and engineering”.



2012 Ph.D. concentration in Health Systems and Design, College of Architecture, Texas A&M University

2005 M.Arch., School of Art & Architecture, Azad University of Tehran

Courses Taught:


DEA 6550 – Innovations in Healthcare Research & Design

• Analytical and scientific approach to design innovation
Evidence-based design certification and accreditation (EDAC)
Innovation series: client-led research and design project on cutting-edge solutions to healthcare problems

DEA 4500 – Policy Meets Design: High Impact Facilities of the 21st century

• In conjunction with the new health policy reforms and aimed to educate future leaders to improve health, quality of life, and cost efficiency
• Connecting policy, people, and design practice through real-life projects and guest lectures
• Collaboration with leaders at Kaiser Permanente and FreemanWhite

DEA3530: Planning and Managing the Workplace: Evidence-Based Design and the Organizational Ecology (2014)

• Principles of design for knowledge workers to improve health and performance and the overall organization’s business outcomes

• Development of translational guide for practitioners for workplace design

Based Design and the Organizational Ecology (2014)

• Sponsored and co-created by HKS Architects, CADRE, and Herman Miller Healthcare

Related Websites:


AHRQ. (2013, November 10). Cornell University’s Faculty Uses AHRQ’s Transforming Hospitals DVD, Agency for Healthcare Research & Quality: Impact Case Studies, Patient Safety. http://www.ahrq.gov/policymakers/case-studies/cquips1308.html


Boscia, T.  (2013, Aug 28). Students help alumnus with hospital redesign. Link Magazine: The Magazine for Human Ecology Alumni. http://issuu.com/humec_comm/docs/linkfall2013/11?e=5110236/5189003  


Budryk, Z. (2015, November 3). Single patient rooms: Reduce hospital-acquired infections and care costs. FierceHealthcarehttp://www.fiercehealthcare.com/story/single-patient-rooms-reduce-hospital-acquired-infections-and-care-costs/2015-11-03


Christensen, J.(2014, Aug 14) Another reason to want the corner office: It's good for your health, CNN Health. http://www.cnn.com/2014/08/14/health/daylight-office-workers/


Cornell University. (2015, November 12). Private hospital rooms cut infection, offset building costs. Newswisehttp://www.newswise.com/articles/private-hospital-rooms-cut-infection-offset-building-costs


Cutler, S. (2013, Nov12). New course blends health policy and facility design. CornellChronicle. http://www.news.cornell.edu/stories/2013/11/new-course-blends-health-policy-and-facility-design 

Ferenc, J. (2015, December 2). Builders, designers impact patient safety in health care facilities. Health Facilities Management. http://www.hfmmagazine.com/display/HFM-news-article.dhtml?dcrPath=/templatedata/HF_Common/NewsArticle/data/HFM/Magazine/2015/Dec/trends-design-construction


Friedlander, B. (2015, September 14). In health care, good design can be good business. Futurityhttp://www.futurity.org/health-care-design-1002462-2/


Friedlander, B. (2015, November 3). Costly private rooms save hospitals lots of money. Futurityhttp://www.futurity.org/hospitals-infections-mrsa-1040952/


Green, M. (2015, November 4). Want to lower infection rates and offset building costs? Use single-patient rooms, study says. Becker’s Hospital Review. http://www.beckershospitalreview.com/quality/want-to-lower-infection-rates-and-offset-building-costs-use-single-patient-rooms-study-says.html


Impact Design Hub. (2015, September 30). Cornell study shows good design means better health outcomes. https://impactdesignhub.org/2015/09/30/cornell-study-shows-good-design-means-better-health-outcomes/


MEDICA.de. (2013, Feb4). Hospitals: Improving Floor Design Against Fatigue. MEDICA. http://www.medica-tradefair.com/cipp/md_medica/custom/pub/content,oid,41215/lang,2/ticket,g_u_e_s_t/local_lang,2


Lian, J. (2013, Apr 11). A healing space. OHS Canada. http://www.ohscanada.com/news/a-healing-space/1002221788/ 


Morse, S. (2015, November 5). Costly private hospital rooms save systems as quality links with cost, Cornell study says. Healthcare Finance News. http://www.healthcarefinancenews.com/news/costly-private-hospital-rooms-save-systems-quality-links-cost-cornell-study-says


Preidt, R. (2015, November 24). Private rooms may save money by cutting hospital infection rates. HealthDay News. November 2015, http://consumer.healthday.com/infectious-disease-information-21/misc-infections-news-411/private-rooms-cut-hospital-infection-rates-study-finds-705244.html


Zaino, J. (2014, June 13).  Evidence-based hospital design: Is it worth the big investment? Healthcare Finance News. http://www.healthcarefinancenews.com/news/evidence-based-hospital-design-it-worth-big-investment


Administrative Responsibilities:


Dr. Zadeh is the co-founder and co-director of the HealthDesign Innovations Lab (HDIL), a multidisciplinary community of faculty, students, practitioners, and community members committed to cutting-edge research on healthcare environments.

Selected Publications:

Peer-Reviewed Journal Articles, Published or Submitted

Sadatsafavi, H., Niknejad, B., Sagha Zadeh, R., & Sadatsafavi, M. (2016). Do cost savings from reductions in nosocomial infections justify additional costs of single-bed rooms in intensive care units? A simulation case study. Journal of Critical Care, 31(1), 194-200. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jcrc.2015.10.010

Sagha Zadeh, R., Sadatsafavi, H., & Xue, R. (2015). Evidence-Based and Value-Based Decision Making About Healthcare Design: An Economic Evaluation of the Safety and Quality Outcomes. HERD: Health Environments Research & Design Journal, 8(4), 58-76. doi: 10.1177/1937586715586393

Neo, J. R., Sagha Zadeh, R., Vielemeyer, O., Franklin, E. (2015) An integrated review of evidence-based practices to increase hand hygiene compliance in healthcare facilities. American Journal of Infection Control, Doi:10.1016/j.ajic.2015.11.034\

Sagha Zadeh, R., Xian, X. & Shepley, M. M. (In Press) Sustainable healthcare design: Current state, existing challenges, and future trends. Facilities.

Sagha Zadeh, R., Shepley, M. M., Williams, G. & Chung, S. S. E. (2014). The impact of windows and daylight on acute-care nurs­es’ physiological, psychological, and behavioral health. Health Environments Research & Design Journal, 7(4), 36-62. (Note: HERD is one of the only currently existing peer-reviewed journals dedicated exclusively to evidence-based design of healthcare facilities)

Sagha Zadeh, R. Shepley, M. M., Waggener, L. & Kennedy, L. (2013). Workplace design: Design characteristics of healthcare environments: The nurses’ perspective. World Health Design, 80-85.

Sagha Zadeh, R., Shepley, M. M. & Waggener, L. T. (2012). Rethinking efficiency in acute care nursing units: Analyzing nursing unit layouts for improved spatial flow. Health Environments Research & Design Journal, 6(1), 39-65.


Shepley, M., Gerbi, R., Watson, A., Imgrund, S. & Sagha Zadeh, R. (2011). The impact of daylight and views on patients and staff. Health Environments Design & Research, 5(2), 46-60.


Nanda, U., Eisen, S., Sagha Zadeh, R. & Owen, D. (2010). Effect of visual art on patient anxiety and agitation in a mental health facility and implications for the business case. Journal of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing, 18(5), 386-393. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2850.2010.01682.x


Research & Design Translational Reports

Eshelman, P., Sagha Zadeh, R., Setla, J. & Krieger, A. (January 20, 2015). “Designing end-of-life care setting to enhance quality of life: Informing the conversation among designers, users, and stake holders,” submitted to Hospice of Central New York, Hospicare of Tompkins County, Francis House, a Social Home Model, and Cayuga Medical Center’s Palliative Care Program.

Shepley, M. & Sagha Zadeh, R.   (May 15, 2015). ““Designing the future neurological Intensive care unit at the New York Presbyterian Hospital: A partnership between Human Ecology and Weill Cornell Medical College submitted to New York Presbyterian Hospital.

Sagha Zadeh, R. & Gilmore, R. (May 15, 2013). “Emergency department of the future, a guideline addressing health, safety, and efficiency,” submitted to HOAG Healthcare and Jacobs Engineering.

Sagha Zadeh, R. & Gilmore, R. (May 15, 2014). “Transforming patient experience for Brigham & Women’s Hospital,” submitted to CAMA Design and Brigham & Women’s Hospital.                                 

Sagha Zadeh, R. (January 5, 2015). “Translational guide for workplace design,” submitted to Herman Miller Healthcare & HKS Architects.

Peer-Reviewed Conference Proceedings, Published                                                                            

Sagha Zadeh, R. & Khadse, G. (2010). “Measuring the outcomes of environmental quality in healthcare buildings: An EBD report on Hillcrest Hospital, Tulsa, OK,” EDRA 41 - 2010: Policy and the Environment, 203-204.


Mills, G. & Sagha Zadeh, R. (2010). “From morphology to policy to urban design: Creating sustainable 21st-century cities,” EDRA 41 - 2010: Policy and the Environment, 269-270. http://edra.org/component/jombib/?task=showbib&id=5143&return=index.php%3Foption%3Dcom_jombib%26amp%3Bcatid%3D0


Sagha Zadeh, R. (2009). “Green healing design strategies,” EDRA 40 - 2009: The Ethical Design of Places, 291. http://edra.org/component/jombib/?task=showbib&id= 3616&return=index.php%3Foption%3Dcom_jombib%26amp%3Bcatid%3D0


Selected Keywords:
evidence-based design, healthcare policy, post-occupancy evaluation, sustainable design, improved environmental quality, hospitals, healthcare, and counseling facilities, quality, care giver workflow, safety and efficiency, high-performance work environments, daylighting, hospice, end-of-life care,aging, terminal care, nursing home design, spatial analysis, space syntax, cost-benefit studies, innovation, healthcare reform, affordable care act,EDAC, systems thinking, systems approach

The information on this bio page is taken from the CHE Annual Report.