Crowd simulations provide a practical approach to evaluate building design alternatives with respect to human-centric criteria, such as evacuation times and flow in case of emergency scenarios. Coupled with Building Information Modeling (BIM) tools, they support architects’ iterative exploration of design alternatives. However, methods based on manually configuring a design and a corresponding simulation are not practical for exploring the potentially very large number of design solutions that satisfy human-centric design goals and requirements. Often, for practical reasons, designers may consider standard crowd configurations which do not capture the behavior of diverse occupants that may exhibit different locomotion abilities, movement patterns, and social behaviors. We posit that a joint exploration of high-dimensional building design and occupancy features is necessary to more accurately capture the mutual relations between buildings and the behavior of their occupants. To test this hypothesis, we conducted a series of experiments to automatically explore joint high dimensional design–occupancy patterns using an unsupervised pattern recognition technique (i.e. K-MEANS). We demonstrate that joint design–occupancy explorations provide more accurate results compared with sequential exploration processes that consider default design or crowd features, despite the longer computational times to simulate a large number of solutions. The findings of this case study have practical applications to the design of next-generation design exploration tools that support human-centric analyses in architectural design.