Hui Cai, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor and Associate Director at the Institute of Health and Wellness (IHWD), where she teaches the capstone design studio and several core lecture courses and directs research for the IHWD. Before joining the faculty, she taught at the University of Missouri, Columbia. She also served as the Health + Science research director and designer at CallisonRTKL Associates in Dallas. Professor 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 is a renowned scholar 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 healthcare's national and organizational culture. 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 using in-depth onsite observation and rigorous analytical tools including Space Syntax Analysis and Discrete Event Simulation. Her recent research and design education focus on developing innovative approaches to deliver healthcare services in non-conventional settings, such as integrating healthcare with transit stations, sports arena, and other settings. She has also been investigating healthy communities in both underserved and affluent areas, in both rural and urban contexts. She aims to link technology, culture, and care model to create a healthy and healing environment.
She has both presented at several international conferences and published several papers in peer-reviewed journals on the relationship between culture, human behavior, and the 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 caregivers. Her studio projects have won several awards including the Chinese National Competition on International Joint Studio Design Projects in 2015 and 2016, UIA-PHG Young Architects and Students Projects Honorable Mention in 2017, and the national Healthcare Environment Design Award (student category) in 2018 and 2020.