The Scan Issue #6

The Scan: An Architecture and Neuroscience Electronic Newsletter

Issue 6: Summer 2006

A New Paradigm

In order to evolve a new paradigm for architecture, major conceptual shifts must take place in how we understand human requirements. This will be a shift away from an emphasis on solving the puzzle of designing a building – its structural, mechanical, lighting and spatial components – to studying how to accommodate human activities correlated with responses of the brain and the mind. Technological solutions to building design will continue to yield important advances in the future, but we will need an understanding of how to integrate knowledge of how neural networks are organized and how attention and conscious awareness regulate and reconfigure the actions of the neurons in those networks when affected by the built environment.


John P. Eberhard, FAIA
Founding President, Washington DC


1. Latrobe Fellowship : Collaborative Research for Evidence-based Design

2. ANFA Neuroscience Laboratory Design Workshop , Washington, D.C.

3. ANFA’s Partnership with the Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives

4. Frank Gehry to speak at 2006 Society for Neuroscience Annual Meeting

5. AIArchitect monthly feature on Neuroscience and Architecture

6. How to subscribe/unsubscribe from The Scan
1. Latrobe Fellowship : Collaborative Research for Evidence-based Design

The following interim report was presented at the 2006 AIA National Convention in Los Angeles .

Chong G, Brandt R, Mangel R, Martin WM, Denton B, Cranz G, Edelstein EA (2006) AIA College of Fellows 2005 Latrobe Fellowship Interim Report. AIA Annual Convention, Los Angeles, June 8, 2006.

The 2005 Latrobe research project utilizes a collaborative, trans-disciplinary model of an evidenced-based design process. The research team comprises representatives from the academic research community (University of California, Berkeley), the architectural community (Chong Partners Architecture), and the client community (Kaiser Permanente). Multiple disciplines that quantify and qualify human responses, performance and outcomes are explored. Evaluation will consider rigorous methods of design research that afford greater predictability of the human response to built settings.

The project focuses on measurement of human responses in healthcare settings as an example of how research, when properly applied, can enhance design. Three research forms are being pursued: 1) literature search of existing design and bio-medical findings, 2) natural experiment in which the conditions of existing hospitals are analyzed relative to specific environmental features, 3) controlled interventions in which the influence of design on human responses are evaluated.

Initial results of the literature search and natural experiment were reported. The pervasive influence of light on human physiology, behavior and health were summarized from a search of bio-medical literature. Data from 8000 patients in 11 Southern California hospitals were analyzed relative to the compass orientation of patient rooms and the length of stay. Research over the course of the next year will continue to explore the relationship between light conditions, environmental features and patient outcomes. Final results will be presented at the 2007 AIA National Convention in San Antonio, Texas .

Eve Edelstein, PhD, March, Assoc AIA

July 17, 2006


The American Institute of Architects

2. Neuroscience Laboratory Design Workshop

The Academy of Neuroscience for Architecture (ANFA) hosted a group of 30 neuroscientists and architects for a workshop on “Neuroscience Laboratory Design: Understanding the Cognitive Processes of Neuroscientists at Work” at the Dana Center in Washington, D.C., on May 8-10. The event was an opportunity for neuroscientists to critically examine environments most familiar to them–their own laboratories and offices—and explore how their cognitive performance might be influenced by their work space.

The welcome address was led by Dana Foundation Chairman William Safire and ANFA’s Founding President John Eberhard. Four interdisciplinary working groups were created to examine potential performance outcomes of a neuroscientist including Creativity, Productivity, Stress, and Memory. Recognizing that different environmental conditions exist for different cognitive activities, the general question posed to the groups was: what might be the environmental characteristics of a “cognitively reinforcing space”, and how can we test this? By fleshing out potential connections and convergence points between a neuroscientist’s physical space and the desired performance outcomes, the working groups were able to hypothesize about how these processes may be influenced by the designed environment.

The workshop concluded with presentations from each group on potential research questions and hypotheses, and how best to construct research paradigms to study these questions. For example, the group on Memory suggested potential imaging studies on stimulating recall and generating internal cuing using artifacts, while the group on Creativity discussed the sociological implications of creating positive feedback loops and collaborations through spatial adjacencies.

This workshop was made possible by the generous financial support of Steelcase, Inc., and additional support from the Dana Foundation. A report will be available on ANFA’s website in the upcoming months: .


The Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives

Steelcase Inc.


3. Partnership with Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives

This year the Academy of Neuroscience for Architecture (ANFA) became an intellectual partner of The Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives. The Dana Alliance, a nonprofit organization of over 250 leading neuroscientists, was created to advance education and public awareness about the progress and promise of brain research. This partnership links ANFA with resources and people central to ANFA’s mission in establishing research and outreach efforts.


The Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives

4. Frank Gehry to speak at Society for Neuroscience (SfN) Annual Meeting

In an annual series titled “Dialogues between Neuroscience and Society” session, Frank Gehry will be speaking on “Architecture & Perception” at the 2006 Society for Neuroscience (SfN) Annual Meeting. The program description for this featured lecture states, “Noted Frank Gehry will discuss the ideas and assumptions about how people perceive and interact with architectural spaces that inform his work. Gehry will also discuss architectural elements such as shapes, colors, and textures as examples of areas where a better scientific understanding of how and why the human brain reacts positively or negatively could help architects to design better buildings and spaces.” (2006 Preliminary Program, Society for Neuroscience).

The SfN annual meeting will take place October 14 – 18, at the Georgia World Congress Center, in Atlanta .


Society for Neuroscience (SfN)


5. AIArchitect monthly feature on Neuroscience and Architecture, March – June issues

John P. Eberhard, FAIA writes monthly articles in a year long series for the electronic journal AIArchitect on neuroscience as it relates to architecture. The most recent issues (March – June) include:


“See the Space and Hear the Sound of Music: How we use the brain and mind to see and hear”
by John P. Eberhard, FAIA
March 24, 2006

“How We Use the Brain and Mind to Smell, Taste, and Touch”
by John P. Eberhard, FAIA
April 28, 2006

“Health-Care Facilities and Neuroscience Knowledge”
by John Eberhard, FAIA
May 26, 2006

“Children’s Brains Are the Key to Well-Designed Classrooms”
by John Eberhard, FAIA
June 23, 2006




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Academy of Neuroscience For Architecture