The Scan Issue #7

The Scan: An Architecture and Neuroscience Electronic Newsletter
Issue 7: Winter 2006

Happy Holidays

Dear Readers:

In Issue 6 of The Scan this past summer, John Eberhard, the founding director of ANFA, challenged us to think about a “new paradigm for architecture,” where we will “shift away from an emphasis on solving the puzzle of designing a building…to studying how to accommodate human activities correlated with responses of the brain and the mind.” Pretty tall order for a profession grounded in tradition and tried-and-true methods. But, as the brief articles describe below, there is movement: Frank Gehry describing his process of “informed intuition” to 7,000 neuroscientists in Atlanta; a workshop on neuroscience and correctional facilities design where participants helped define a follow-on research effort; and a workshop on aging and Alzheimer’s facilities where a session on research applications was lively and substantive.

This coming year ANFA will devote its attention to advocating and promoting the benefits of a research program to move this paradigm forward.

It will be an interesting journey.

Peter Smeallie
Executive Director, Washington, D.C.


1. Frank Gehry speaks at 2006 Society for Neuroscience Annual Meeting

2. Neuroscience and Correctional Facility Design Workshop

3. Workshop on Aging and Alzheimer’s Facilities

4. ANFA launches updated website

5. ANFA Washington DC: change of address

6. Recent Press

7. How to subscribe/unsubscribe from The Scan

1. Frank Gehry speaks at 2006 Society for Neuroscience (SfN) Annual Meeting

Renowned architect Frank Gehry launched the 2006 Society for Neuroscience annual meeting as this year’s “Dialogues between Neuroscience and Society” series speaker.  Gehry’s presentation included a slide lecture of his work, a one-on-one conversation with ANFA Board Member Dr. Fred H. Gage of the Salk Institute for Biological Sciences, and an audience question and answer session.

The decision to feature an architect at a meeting for neuroscience is significant in promoting the convergence of these two disciplines: “It is an especially timely and relevant milestone for the Academy of Neuroscience for Architecture because it is our mission to foster intellectual links between neuroscientists and architects,” said Academy of Neuroscience for Architecture President Gordon Chong, FAIA.

Gehry’s presentation, which was held on Saturday, October 14th at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta, drew an estimated crowd of 7,000.



Society for Neuroscience


2. Neuroscience and Correctional Facility Design Workshop:

Understanding cognitive processes in correctional settings
Jay Farbstein, Ph.D., FAIA
Melissa M. Farling, AIA

Research has demonstrated that correctional environments have positive or negative impacts on inmate behavior, contributing to or inhibiting the achievement of facility operators’ objectives – such as safety, security, order, freedom from assaults and destruction of property.  These can be influenced by environmental factors such as crowding, space allocations, availability of resources, levels of noise, natural light, and other factors.

Approximately 1 year ago, the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Academy of Architecture for Justice (AAJ) and ANFA joined forces to further research in correctional environments.  The National Institute of Corrections (NIC) and the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) have historically been very supportive of research on corrections environments and programs.  In early September 2006, NIC continued their support and approved a “cooperative agreement” providing funds for a pilot study of the application of neuroscience concepts and methods to correctional environments.  The AIA and Turner Construction have also agreed to provide financial and logistical support.

Specific topics considered for investigation include:
– The impact of daylight and views, including the level of luminance and means of control.
– The effect of exposure to nature (e.g., views of greenery or water) on stress and aggression.
– The impact of the size of space in which one is confined (and the number of people one shares it with), density, crowding, etc.
– The impact of ambient noise on stress and communications.
– The effects of environmental design features on inmate-staff relationships.
– The impact of color on perceptions.

The eventual outcomes from this project are expected to be better, more evidence-based design decisions about correctional environment design and operations, more humane and effective correctional settings, and more satisfied clients of design services.

The project will complete the following 3 tasks in approximately thirteen months, from September 2006 through September 2007.

Phase 1 focused on a workshop where participants defined an agenda for neuroscience research in correctional settings. The workshop, held in New Orleans in October, was attended by over 20 participants.  As a result, four sets of research projects were identified and two of them are being further developed for possible implementation.  One project focuses on the impact of visual features (light, color, views of nature) and would be studied in an intake/booking center at a Northern California jail.

The second possible study would look at the neuroscience impacts of improved and increased inmate-staff interactions.  There would be three parts to the study which would compare the level of “mirror neuron” activity in a direct supervision jail, and in an indirect supervision jail before and after implementation of inmate behavior management.

Phase 2 entails the conduct of one of the above research studies within one or two correctional settings (jails).

Phase 3 consists of documentation and dissemination of results.


The Academy of Architecture for Justice (AAJ)

National Institute of Corrections (NIC)


3. Workshop on Aging & Alzheimer’s facilities

In a joint effort between the Academy of Neuroscience for Architecture and the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Design for Aging Knowledge Committee, a workshop on “Aging/Alzheimer’s Design: Links to Neuroscience” was held November 29 – December 1 at the Dana Center in Washington, D.C.  The workshop assembled 25 participants with representatives from the neuroscience, Alzheimer’s research, aging facility management, and architecture communities.

Participants broke into focus groups to identify and discuss high priority research topics and translational research applications in the following critical areas: memory, physiological and physical ability, sensory perception, cognitive mapping, and environmental press.  For example, in the sensory perception group, the question was raised whether multi-sensory environmental cuing is an effective tactic for orienting Alzheimer’s residents.  Research suggests that the association areas in the brain where this information is combined suffers impairment in early stages of Alzheimer’s.  Therefore, since multi-sensory stimuli would be processed in separate, versus integrated, cortical regions in this population, is the resulting effect more stressful or disorienting compared to the potency of a single sensory stimulus?

The workshop was made possible by the generous financial support of The American Institute of Architects, the Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives, the Aging Research Institute, Bovis Lend Lease and a special grant from the Alzheimer’s Association which supported the attendance of junior investigators. A report from this workshop will be made available on ANFA’s website in the upcoming months.


AIA Design for Aging

The Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives


4. ANFA launches updated website

On Friday, October 13 the Academy of Neuroscience for Architecture launched a redesigned website. The web address remains the same:


ANFA Website


5. ANFA Washington, D.C. office: change of address

Beginning January 1, 2007, ANFA’s Washington, D.C. office will relocate to a new address:

600 Woodland Terrace
Alexandria, Virginia 22302
Phone: 703.683.1808
Fax: 703.683.1815

The headquarters office for ANFA remains at the following address:

1249 F Street
San Diego CA 92101
Phone:  619.235.0221


ANFA Website


6. Recent Press, July – December 2006

“Gehry Talks About Architecture and the Mind at Neuroscience Conference”
by Meredith Banasiak
November 10, 2006

“The Neuroscience and Architecture of Time”
by John P. Eberhard, FAIA
September 15, 2006

Cel l
“Neuroscience and Architecture: Seeking Common Ground”
By Esther M. Sternberg, and Matthew A. Wilson
20 October 2006, Vol 127, 239-242

Cosmos FM
“Neuroscience and Architecture: an interview with ANFA’s Dr. Eduardo Macagno and Meredith Banasiak”
By Areti Tsiola, Ph.D.
11 October 2006

Forward: The Quarterly Journal of the National Associates Committee
“A Legacy of Service”
By Margaret Tarampi, Assoc. AIA

PLACE Architecture Michigan
“Neuroscience: The Next Frontier of Understanding Architectural Experience”
By Robert Carington, AIA and Margaret Tarampi, Assoc. AIA
pages 17 – 18


7. How to Subscribe/Unsubscribe from The Scan

Thank you for your interest and continued support of our work.

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Questions and comments should be directed to Meredith Banasiak (


Academy of Neuroscience for Architecture