Towards Adaptive and Resilient Built Environments: New Frontiers in Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence

Runhe Zhu, PhD

Florida International University

February 2, 2024 | 11 a.m. | 140 Ketter Hall


Runhe Zhu.

Built environments are closely intertwined with our lives as we spend most of our times in indoor environments and interact with various civil infrastructure systems on a daily basis. However, different types of emergencies, both natural and anthropogenic, can occur to built environments, putting human safety at great peril. In these situations, human factor is the key for safety and emergency outcomes. Nevertheless, current approaches lack a comprehensive understanding of the intricate interplays among humans, built environments, and emergency attributes, impeding the effective integration of these dynamics into building safety and emergency management strategies. At the same time, emerging trends in natural and societal systems are introducing new challenges to the security and resilience of built environments, necessitating an effective approach to make built environments safer and more adaptive to people’s needs and experiences. In this seminar, I will present an end-to-end framework that incorporates empirical investigation of human-building-emergency interactions and AI-enabled approaches leveraging these findings to mitigate emergency risks in built environments. I will then present my long-term research vision at the intersection of humans, built environments, and AI, with the ultimate goal of providing safe, adaptive, and accessible built environments for all.


Runhe Zhu is an Assistant Professor in the Moss School of Construction, Infrastructure and Sustainability at Florida International University. He holds a PhD in Civil Engineering from the University of Southern California, and a bachelor’s degree in Construction Management from Tianjin University, China. While pursuing his Ph.D., he also earned two MS degrees, one in Computer Science and one in Electrical Engineering. His research focuses on understanding and modeling the interactions between humans and built environments at different scales for more informed decision-making and augmented human capabilities. He has investigated human responses to building emergencies under the influence of various personal, social, and environmental factors, and he is currently leveraging the findings to develop and test data-driven crowd evacuation simulations for improving the safety of campus communities. Additionally, he is exploring AI-assisted immersive environments to promote inclusive learning in Civil and Construction Engineering, and human infrastructure interactions under natural disasters. He collaborates with researchers from many different fields, private companies, and government agencies. His research has been supported by the National Science Foundation.