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Brain LandscapeThe Coexistence of Neuroscience and Architecture$

John P. Eberhard

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780195331721

Published to British Academy Scholarship Online: May 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195331721.001.0001

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(p.204) APPENDIX THREE Architecture: History and Practice

(p.204) APPENDIX THREE Architecture: History and Practice

Brain Landscape
Oxford University Press

A designer makes things. Sometimes he makes the final product; more often, he makes a representation—a plan, program, or image—of an artifact to be constructed by others. He works in particular situations, uses particular materials, and employs a distinctive medium and language. Typically, his making process is complex. There are more variables—kinds of possible moves, norms, and interrelationships of these—than can be represented in a finite model. Because of this complexity, designer’s moves tend, happily or unhappily, to produce consequences other than those intended. When this happens, the designer may take account of the unintended changes he has made in the situation by forming new appreciations and understandings and making new moves. He shapes the situation, in accordance with his initial appreciation of it, the situation “talks back,” and he responds to the situation’s back talk.

—SCHON (1983)

APPENDIX THREE Architecture: History and Practice

Figure A3–1. Margaret Morrison building at CMU.

(p.205) This appendix provides a short history of architecture, a discussion of what architects do in practice, and how architectural schools are organized. This is followed by a few examples of specific neurological discoveries related to how our brains respond to images of buildings and harmony and symmetry. The intention of this appendix is to give readers who are not architects a basic understanding of what architecture means in the context of this book. A glossary of architectural terms is also included.

Architectural design reflects the value systems of the society that produces the buildings. This is not a written record but one contained in the fabric of the building, in its size and proximity to other buildings, and the very fact that it exists at all. For example, in the past, banks were housed within other commercial structures. Then, they became small classical buildings located in the town center. Today, they are housed in the large office towers as financial centers of most metropolitan areas. In contrast, schools have been separate structures in communities as far back as ancient Greek and Roman times. In 19th-century America, there were thousands of one-room school buildings. Once the school bus was developed and children no longer had to walk to school, larger school buildings were created by consolidated school districts. In no community today is there any comparable investment between school buildings and financial centers. Therefore it seems clear what our society’s message—architecturally speaking—will be to future generations about the value we placed on education as compared with banking.

It certainly is not necessary to know the history of architecture to be interested in how the brain and mind perceive and experience architectural settings. But because the collection of architectural buildings now existent around the world were a more or less evolutionary development over centuries, it seems useful to trace their origins and prototypes.


Most people think of architecture as buildings designed by well-known architects—such as the buildings shown in the architectural history (p.206) section that follow. Though there are buildings whose external design is likely to impact human experiences, for example, the great cathedrals of Europe, most building exteriors are of less importance to human experiences than are the spaces inside. These interior spaces are where the average person spends more than 90% of his or her time.

This book makes a distinction between places (buildings, malls, parks, etc.) and spaces where human experiences are largely formed. For example, we might remember a place where we once lived (a house) and think of it as a structure that provided shelter for our home—the spaces where we were protected from the weather and provided a personal sense of security. But the home was also where we experienced spaces for sleeping, bathing, and general hygiene—laundry, eating, and drinking (often with family and friends)—cooking and serving, entertainment (television, radio, Internet, etc.), hobbies and crafts, and work undertaken in a home office.

The experiences we have in such spaces have the potential to be studied by neuroscience. These spaces range from white-collar work in offices—reading, writing, typing, computer interactions, and so on—to manual labor in factories—physical exertion, skilled manipulation of tools, and so on. Spaces to be studied would include learning spaces at every level: elementary classes (kindergarten to seventh or eighth grade), secondary education (eighth to ninth grade through high school in the United States), college (from community colleges, to universities; and higher education), and graduate studies from master’s to postdoctoral. Another important area would be spaces used for health maintenance, health care, treatment—sometimes under emergency conditions—operating rooms and treatment for medical conditions, and recovery rooms, long term and short term. The chapters in this book explore many of these possibilities.


The history of buildings can be approached as a chronological record, or as a technological progression, or as evolving design concepts. In the (p.207) following, an attempt has been made to combine these three approaches. Not all of the chronological periods usually covered in an architectural history book are included here.

There are few buildings still standing that date back more than 5,000 years (roughly 3,000 B.C.). There are several reasons for this, including the fact that there were no human settlements with sufficient resources to build anything more than shelter for their inhabitants to live in. Architecture, throughout history has provided for symbolism, ritual, and magic. Trachtenberg and Hyman suggest, “Neolithic man had achieved a degree of security in the face of nature, but the world remained fearsome and perplexing, especially to a humanity with our same basic needs, feelings, and powers of imagination, but dauntingly little knowledge” (Trachtenberg & Hyman, 1986).

One of the most mysterious monuments still standing is the collection of stones at Stonehenge (Fig. A3–2). There can be only speculation about what motivated the design of this monument. At the exact time of the summer solstice, the rising sun comes up over the apex of the Heel Stone. The construction was highly accurate, with all the uprights plumbed and with mortice-and-tenon joints securing the horizontal beams against slippage.

On the other hand, the purpose of the great pyramids at Giza (Fig. A3–3) was clearly to provide tombs for the bodies of the pharaohs of the Fourth Dynasty (2,500 B.C.) an eternal resting place. Solving the mystery of their design and construction remains speculative as well. The technological mystery is how these gigantic blocks of stone could be moved into place with no more than human muscle. This is overshadowed, for our purposes,

APPENDIX THREE Architecture: History and Practice

Figure A3–2. Stonehenge.

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Figure A3–3. Pyramids at Giza.

in how the minds of their designers were able to develop the perfect proportions of these giant structures. They are designed with the elegance of a Swiss timepiece, and each is precisely oriented to the points of the compass—before there were any instruments to provide these data.

Mohenjo Daro (mound of the dead) was a city of the Indus Valley civilization built around 2,600 B.C. in what is now Pakistan. This ancient city is the largest of the Indus Valley and is widely recognized as one of the most important early cities of South Asia and the Indus Valley civilization. Mohenjo Daro was one of the world’s first cities, contemporaneous with ancient Egyptian and Mesopotamian civilizations. It is sometimes referred to as “an Ancient Indus Valley metropolis.”

The architectural achievements of the Greeks during the fifth and fourth centuries B.C. are among the wonders of the early history of human design. “Greek architecture does not amaze and overwhelm with mere scale and complexity; it has vigor, harmony, and refinement that thrill the mind as well as the eye” (Trachtenberg & Hyman, 1986).

Entasis (Fig. A3–4) in architecture is the convex curve given to a column, spire, or similar upright member, to avoid the optical illusion of hollowness or weakness that would arise from normal tapering. Entasis is almost universal in Classic columns. Exaggerated in Greek archaic Doric work, it grew more subtle in the fifth and fourth centuries B.C. (Entasis is also occasionally found in Gothic spires and in the smaller Romanesque columns.) In the many attempts that have been made to find a mathematical basis for the entasis, it has been reduced to all kinds of elliptical hyperbolic, parabolic, and even cycloidal curves. The immense variety of forms indicates, however, that the curve was probably laid out freehand and is purely empirical.


APPENDIX THREE Architecture: History and Practice

Figure A3–4. Entasis in columns.

The sublime creation of High Classic Doric architecture is the Parthenon (Fig. A3–5) on the Athenian Acropolis. The building was erected between 447 and 438 B.C. Its unity of proportion produced its uncanny harmony. It is what the Greeks called “frozen music”—a metaphor for celestial harmonies.

The remarkable visual developments in the Parthenon are its optical refinements that involve variations from the perpendicular and especially from straight lines. Hardly a single true straight line is to be found in the building. Historians believe these optical refinements contribute to the visible grace of the temple and its vitality—so much so that the basic design concept has been incorporated in classical facades down through the ages, including such well-known buildings as the Supreme Court of

APPENDIX THREE Architecture: History and Practice

Figure A3–5. Parthenon.

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Figure A3–6. Supreme Court.

the United States (Fig. A3–6), constructed between 1932 and 1935 and designed by noted architect Cass Gilbert.

The architecture of the Roman Empire (from about 300 B.C. to 365 A.D.) seems to have absorbed much from the Greeks, but the invention of the round arch (see examples in the walls still standing in Madrid; Fig. A3–7) and its extension into the barrel vault was a substantial technological advance over the simple post and beam construction technique. It made possible the impressive aqueducts and structures like the Coliseum.

Though a logical extension of the round arch, the pointed arch of Gothic architecture made possible many new advances. The floor plan of Gothic cathedrals could be elongated to allow for religious processions.

The development of the flying buttress made it possible for the walls to be filled with glass (as in the Abbey church in Bath, England; Fig. A3–8). The visual experience of the 12th- to 14th-century European cathedrals still engenders a sense of awe in visitors that must have been even more astounding for the citizens of the cities in which they were erected. Many of these citizens devoted their entire life, as dedicated religious volunteers, to working on the construction of a single cathedral. Several

APPENDIX THREE Architecture: History and Practice

Figure A3–7. Madrid wall in old city.

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Figure A3–8. Abbey at Bath, England.

generations of workers from the same families were often involved in long-term projects.

It was not just in Europe that architecture flourished, however. In the Islamic world, the Alhambra in Granada (Fig. A3–9) is one of the greatest of all Muslim contributions to the history of architecture.

Mosques dedicated to religious activities characterize Islamic architecture. The Ottomans created their own design of mosques, which included large central domes, multiple minarets, and open facades.

Architectural developments in China, Japan, India, Africa, and Central America were happening at about this same time in history, but they are generally not as well known to those of us who live in the West. (See section on Chinese architecture in Chapter 4).

APPENDIX THREE Architecture: History and Practice

Figure A3–9. Alhambra, Spain.

(p.212) Architectural history books dwell at some length on the Renaissance and Baroque periods of architecture (from roughly the 15th century to the 19th century in Europe) because numerous building still exists from those periods, and they represented a turning point in human development.

The Renaissance vision was based on new concepts of the spiritual and intellectual autonomy of the individual, on the power of human reason, and on freedom from dependence on the supernatural. These concepts had evolved from the early Humanist ideas of antiquity as a time when man had been the measure of all things and the faculty of reason his most prized natural gift, when each individual constituted his own authority by virtue of his rational powers. (Trachtenberg & Hyman, 1986)

Two important developments began during the Renaissance. One is the concept of individual authority, eventually becoming the basis for the manifestoes of early 20th-century architects who broke with the long traditional design of the classics. The other is the rapid development of science, when the faculty of reason became a basis for exploring the world. Neuroscience is the latest development in this history going back to the Renaissance.

An example from the Baroque period that seems to stand directly at the physical and intellectual center of these developments is the great Baldachin over the high altar of St. Peter’s in Rome (Fig. A3–10), designed by Bernini in 1624. The power of the Church (and of the popes) is now challenged by the power of the intellect.


Toward the end of the 19th century—roughly from 1856 to 1889—an enormous burst of creative energy was invested in the processes of invention and innovation. So much so that the U.S. Congress in 1899 proposed that the Patent Office be closed, because surely everything that could ever be invented had been invented by then. There were seven key inventions (p.213)

APPENDIX THREE Architecture: History and Practice

Figure A3–10. St. Peter’s altar.

in this period that dramatically changed the technology of buildings and cities. For thousands of years, as we have seen, a process of slow change in structural methods evolved from post and beam construction to the fan vaulting of the late Gothic cathedrals. But there had been little change from Roman times in the method of heating buildings or dealing with bathing and waste disposal. Lighting changed a little from candles to oil lamps, but lights were still small fires that often caused major ones. Horses and buggies were the main transportation system for those who could afford them. The business of merchants was recorded by hand on pieces of paper sent to others via messengers, Pony Express, or eventually mail on trains.

Physics Emerged in the Mid-19th Century

Conceptually, physics is the science that deals with the structure of matter and the interactions between the fundamental constituents of the observable universe. In the broadest sense, physics (from the Greek physikos) is concerned with all aspects of nature. Its scope of study encompasses not only the behavior of objects under the action of given forces but also the nature and origin of gravitational, electromagnetic, and (p.214) nuclear force fields. The ultimate aim of physics is to find a unified set of laws governing matter, motion, and energy at small (microscopic) subatomic distances, at the human (macroscopic) scale of everyday life, and out to the largest distances (e.g., those on the extragalactic scale). This ambitious goal has been realized to a notable extent. A remarkably small set of fundamental physical laws seems able to account for all known phenomena. The body of physics known as classical physics can largely account for such phenomena as heat, sound, electricity, magnetism, and light.

The revolution in building technology began in 1855 when the Bessemer process for smelting iron ore into steel was invented. The application of steel to beams and columns that could be incorporated in buildings did not happen until 1883 (in the Home Insurance Building in Chicago). With the advanced design methods (Fig. A3–11) that physics made possible, the strength of steel beams and columns and their connections could be carefully calculated. No longer were buildings confined to the five or six floors of stacked masonry units. The skeleton of the building was now free to soar higher.

The invention of the elevator (Fig. A3–12) safety device by Elisha Graves Otis in 1889 made it possible to introduce a convenient method of moving up and down in buildings as they became taller. For thousands of years, stairs were the only method of vertical transport in buildings, and people are not generally disposed (or even physically able) to walk up more than five or six flights. The elevator, therefore, became a necessary adjunct to steel-framed buildings. Elevators required the development of motors, electrical controls, and safety mechanisms—all of which depended on physics for their design.

APPENDIX THREE Architecture: History and Practice

Figure A3–11. Steel structural system.


APPENDIX THREE Architecture: History and Practice

Figure A3–12. Otis elevator safety catch.

The invention of the light bulb (in 1880) that used electricity as its energy source greatly reduced the number of fires from oil and gaslights. More important, the electric light bulb made it necessary and economically possible to invest in electricity generating plants, relay stations, wire distribution systems, and other electrical apparatus (Fig. A3–13). Both electrical generators and motors underwent substantial development in the final decades of the 19th century. In particular, French, German, Belgian, and Swiss engineers evolved the most satisfactory forms of armature (the coil of wire) and produced the dynamo, which made the large-scale generation of electricity commercially feasible. By the beginning of the 20th century, electrical systems were installed in cities. The first practical incan-descent lamps became possible after the invention of good vacuum pumps.

APPENDIX THREE Architecture: History and Practice

Figure A3–13. Electrical systems in cities.

(p.216) Thomas Edison has received the major credit because of his development of the power lines and other equipment needed to establish the incandescent lamp in a practical lighting system in buildings and along streets.

Though fireplaces are still found in many homes, neither fireplaces nor stoves that require fuel to be distributed to each location and for the ashes to be removed would be practical in a modern office building, hotel, or hospital. Specific heat of solid materials is the principle from physics that led to the development of central heating systems (Fig. A3–14) in buildings. The control devices for furnaces by 1868 made central heating possible. At first, coal was the primary fuel; gradually, oil and natural gas were introduced, and today electricity provides an alternative to these fuels.

Fluid mechanics, which in large part provides the theoretical foundation for hydraulics, deals with such matters as the flow of liquids in pipes, rivers, and channels, and their confinement by dams and tanks. This knowledge eventually led to the development of indoor plumbing systems (Fig. A3–15) for the disposal of human wastes. Perhaps the invention with the greatest impact on the growth of cities was the flushing valve for water closets introduced in England in about 1878. This simple device made practical water distribution systems and the associated sewer systems. Cities in Western society gradually made the necessary investments in the infrastructure for plumbing, greatly reducing the incidence of disease.

Communication systems in building and cities were greatly advanced by the 1876 invention of the telephone (Fig. A3–16) by Alexander Graham Bell. The telephone is an instrument that is designed for the simultaneous

APPENDIX THREE Architecture: History and Practice

Figure A3–14. Heating system for house.

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Figure A3–15. Plumbing system for house.

transmission and reception of the human voice. Inexpensive and simple to operate, it provides its user a personal type of communication that cannot be obtained through the written word. The development of telephone systems by the Bell Laboratories (founded in 1925) was largely based on the science of physics. In the early 1900s the telephone was largely responsible for the architectural layout of office buildings. It could be argued that the telephone was the parent of the Internet and certainly the ubiquitous cell phone.

The last major invention on this short list of inventions that revolutionized the design of building and cities is the automobile (Fig. A3–17). The invention of the internal combustion

APPENDIX THREE Architecture: History and Practice

Figure A3–16. Telephone development.

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Figure A3–17. Horseless carriage.

engine by Gottlieb Daimler and his co-worker, Wilhelm Maybach, in 1882 made the automobile possible. They patented one of the first successful high-speed internal combustion engines (1885) and developed a carburetor that made possible the use of gasoline as fuel. The internal combustion engine is a prime mover, and it emerged in the 19th century as a result both of greater scientific understanding of the principles of thermodynamics and of a search by engineers for a substitute for steam power.


The remarkable thing about these inventions is that they still dominate the technology of buildings and cities after more than a century of unprecedented growth in science and technology. Building codes, engineering courses, architectural specifications, and examinations for architectural licenses are all based on the technologies these seven inventions produced. After 7,000 years of slowly developing the commodity, firmness, and delight of buildings, these inventions completely changed the world. For good or bad, there are no urban development projects anywhere in the world that are even considering alternative technologies. The introduction of computers in the second half of the 20th century has dramatically changed many aspects of our lives, but not our buildings. As you will read in the rest of this appendix, architectural history and theory was soon set adrift by these technologies (and the intellectual climate that made them possible). Now, at the beginning of the 21st century, what it means to produce a well-designed building is largely a matter of academic ferment and the opinions of architectural critics.


Most of the early “architecture” (meaning buildings considered in archi-tecture history books) of the United States was copied from European examples. Most of the early architects were educated in Europe, so it is not too surprising that their buildings reflected the European models. Gradually, we developed what was to be called Colonial architecture—reflecting our status as a colony of Great Britain.

One of the earliest examples of Colonial architecture is the Octagon House (Fig. A3–18) in Washington, D.C., that is now the headquarters for the American Architectural Foundation (visible behind it is the American Institute of Architects office building). William Thornton—a dentist who had educated himself in things architectural and became the first architect of the U.S. Capitol as well—designed this house in 1801. The owner was Colonel John Tayloe III, a friend of George Washington, who had persuaded Tayloe to help give the new city of Washington a substantial dwelling.

Georgian architecture is the name given in English-speaking countries to the architectural styles current between about 1720 and 1840, named after the four British monarchs named George. In the American colonies, Colonial Georgian blended with the neo-Palladian style to become known more broadly as “Federal” building styles. Georgian buildings were largely built of wood with clapboards; even columns were built of timber, framed up and turned on an oversized lathe. The establishment of Georgian architecture was largely aided by the fact that unlike earlier styles, which were disseminated among craftsmen through the direct experience of the

APPENDIX THREE Architecture: History and Practice

Figure A3–18. Octagon House.

(p.220) apprenticeship system, Georgian architecture was also disseminated to builders through the new medium of inexpensive suites of engravings. From the mid-18th century on, Georgian styles were assimilated into an architectural vernacular that became part and parcel of the training of every carpenter, mason, and plasterer.

Federal architecture occurred in the United States between 1780 and 1830, particularly from 1785 to 1815. The period is associated with the early republic and the establishment of the national institutions of the United States. The English style came to America by way of British pattern books and an ever-swelling wave of masons, carpenters, and joiners who emigrated from England. After the American Revolution, in a display of patriotic zeal, the entire period in America, including Georgian architecture and furniture, became known as Federal. The most common symbol used in the Federal style is the American eagle.

The 20th Century

After the technological revolution spurred by the inventions mentioned previously, architecture and architects were freed from the constraints of Classic designs. Two special architects emerged early in the 20th century: Louis Sullivan and Frank Lloyd Wright.

Sullivan (1856–1924) was a believer in the idea that architecture is the truthful mirror of a nation’s values. He set himself the goal of creating a genuine American architecture free from the classic orders of the past. Although he probably succeeded in his own work, except for his pupil, Frank Lloyd Wright, no architect of note carried on Sullivan’s quest. Perhaps his most successful buildings were the eight banks he designed for savings and loan institutions in small towns in Iowa, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin. These banks showed his ability to rethink a classic problem many times with results that were always fresh. His design for the National Farmers Bank in Owatonna, Minnesota, constructed in 1907–1908 (Fig. A3–19) is considered by many critics to be his best.

Wright (1867–1959) worked for Sullivan in the beginning of his career, but soon went on to forge a long legacy of unique buildings. Because he

APPENDIX THREE Architecture: History and Practice

Figure A3–19. Bank designed by Louis Sullivan.

(p.221) lived to be 92, he really had three career phases. His early career took place in Oak Park, Illinois, from 1889 to 1910, during which he produced the Unity Temple, Taliesin, and the Robie House (and many others). His middle period from 1936 to 1951 (after a bad experience during the Depression) included the Johnson Wax buildings in Racine, Wisconsin, Taliesin West, and Fallingwater (Fig. A3–20). After a new spurt of energy when he was 70, he designed the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York and many other projects. Fallingwater, his most famous design (shown here), clearly set him apart as a genius.

While Fallingwater is his most well-known masterpiece, he produced more than 400 others that have never been successfully imitated. His genius was unique, as was his personality and his infamous private life.

In Germany between 1910 and 1930, the Bauhaus became the source of major new prototypes of what has become known as modern architecture. Walter Gropius, the founder of the Bauhaus who became the chairman of Architecture at Harvard University in 1937, set the tone with his design for the Fagus Factory in 1913 (Fig. A3–21). His educational reforms at Harvard soon swept across the United States and changed architectural

APPENDIX THREE Architecture: History and Practice

Figure A3–20. Fallingwater house.

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Figure A3–21. Fagus Factory by Gropius.

education from one modeled on the Ecole de Beaux Arts in Paris to a free-floating sort of modernism.

Among the buildings I personally most admire (as do the majority of members of the American Institute of Architects) is the Thorncrown Chapel (Fig. A3–22) in Eureka Spring, Arkansas. Designed by E. Fay Jones in 1980, it is vastly popular with the public as well. There is no resident congregation; many couples have had their marriage ceremony there. It derives its unique structure from a requirement by the owner of the land (and the client for the chapel) that no trucks or heavy equipment come on to the land. Each structural member (pieces of wood) had to be light enough to be carried in by hand.

The central entrance pyramid of the Louvre in Paris designed by I. M. Pei (Fig. A3–23) is considered by many to be his special contribution to an extraordinary legacy of modernism—which began with his education at Harvard under Gropius. The main pyramid rises 71 feet above the

APPENDIX THREE Architecture: History and Practice

Figure A3–22. Thorncrown Chapel in Arkansas.

APPENDIX THREE Architecture: History and Practice

Figure A3–23. Louvre pyramid by I. M. Pei.

ground, providing the central feature to a vast new entrance to the main galleries. It is a complex steel structure sheathed in reflective glass. In addition to this pyramid, Pei’s major projects include the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado (1961); the East Gallery of the National Gallery of Art (1974); the Bank of China Tower, Hong Kong (1989); and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Cleveland, Ohio (1995).


Although there have been vast changes in the technological base available over the past 100 years, there have been only minor modifications to the original set of urban innovations discussed previously. Two areas where change occurred are electronic control systems for transportation systems and the use of computers and the Internet for communications. There is today a more daring use of steel-reinforced concrete structures, new and improved elevators, air-cooling systems added to heating systems, better looking plumbing fixtures, better light bulbs, and faster automobiles. Essentially the same seven primary inventions from the 19th century dominate the urban infrastructure.

Many young architects with strong technological backgrounds are developing concepts and demonstrations of what they call “smart” architecture. They believe that the process of creating new buildings can move closer to that of advanced technological systems in which every element (p.224) of a building has an operative nature. This concept is based on designing and making environments for human activities that are “intelligent”—they are able to adapt to the activities in real time. We have all seen plays or operas where the stage setting is changed between acts and sometimes during the action on the stage. Smart architecture carries this concept to the next level. It provides spaces, lighting, temperature controls, acoustics, and other parameters of the architectural setting with the technological means for changing in real time. In the more advanced systems, the architectural setting would anticipate human activities and thus play an interactive role.

The creators of smart architecture envision walls, floors, lighting, and so on, of architectural settings as having the ability to communicate information to the user—a large computer system that includes human actors as elements of the hardware and software. For example, MIT’s Media Lab has invented something called the Magic Carpet system, which includes a series of piezoelectric wires in the floor to sense footstep dynamics, such as pressure and movement, and provide this information to control systems for lighting, temperature, and security.

New materials, many still in the development stage, show promise in facilitating these dynamic architectural settings. The following are some examples: magnetostrictive materials change shape when subjected to a magnetic field; memory alloys that are thermally or stress driven undergo a phase change under stress—from a high-temperature phase to a low-temperature phase, and return to the original high-temperature phase when reheated; electrochromic materials change color on application of an electrical voltage (electrochromic windows darken when a voltage is applied and become transparent when voltage is removed); and biometric materials can be used to convert a biological response into an electric signal. It is also potentially possible that some of these materials will be able to learn and adapt over time, much like living systems.

A designer/architect would then become a stage manager for the activities being housed and would serve his or her clients on a continuous basis. This would be made more technologically feasible because the materials themselves can adapt to changes in real time and because the design (p.225) processes incorporated in computer-based systems will allow the architect real-time access to client information systems and to building elements that can be modified in real time as well.


This is a special area of architectural perception that has interested me for many years. Studies have shown that children who are age 5 make almost identical drawings of houses. They have no ability to make a drawing of the house in which they live or to copy the drawings of other children. Research results emerging from neuroscience laboratories and clinics around the world are beginning to provide an understanding of why this is the case.

Before the age of 5, most children lack the motor skills required to make geometric drawings—they scribble. After the age of six, most children begin to make more complicated drawings, including making copies of other drawings they have seen. Here are two examples of houses by five-year-olds related to me.

In the past 10 years, I have been collecting drawings of houses made by five-year-old children. The remarkable thing is that children around the world and as far back as 1938 (which is as old a record as I have been able to find) draw essentially the same house. A flat view of the main facade,

APPENDIX THREE Architecture: History and Practice

Figure A3–24. House drawing by Richard.

APPENDIX THREE Architecture: History and Practice

Figure A3–25. House drawing by Sarah.

with a pitched roof, two windows subdivided into four parts, a door with a knob in the center, and sometimes a chimney. In what follows, I will first show some examples and then propose two possible neuroscience reasons for these drawings.

Figure A3–26 is a drawing by a boy living in Israel in an apartment building that looks like the one show in Figure A3–27. Note that the drawing of a house bears little or no resemblance to where the child actually lives. There are many other examples from other places in the world that show this same relationship.

Another example “house” drawings can be found in a collection made by children who lived through the Spanish Civil War. It was believed at the time that having children make drawings was a form of therapy for dealing with the horrors of war. The Spanish Welfare Association of America first

APPENDIX THREE Architecture: History and Practice

Figure A3–26. House drawing by Israeli boy.

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Figure A3–27. Typical apartment in Israel.

published the drawings in 1938. Two drawings from that collection are show in Figures A3–28 and A3–29.

There is another collection of drawings contained in an unpublished booklet titled “Children’s Drawings from the Concentration Camp of Terezin.” At this camp, teaching was forbidden, but drawing was allowed, and almost all the young prisoners drew pictures. Only 100 of the more than 15,000 children “processed” here survived; the rest perished at Auschwitz. The author of this booklet says, “These drawings depict the lost homes, towns and countryside, which were living on in their memories.” But the author had no way of knowing that these drawings show the same house drawn by 5-year-old children all over the world and likely have no resemblance to their actual homes.

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Figure A3–28. House drawing by Spanish child (one).

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Figure A3–29. House drawing by Spanish child (two).

(p.228) One drawing was made by Thomas Kauders (Fig. A3–30), who was born in 1934 and died at Auschwitz 1943. Even though he was 9 when he died, he probably made the drawing around 1940, when he was 5.

Another drawing was made by Julia Ogularova (Fig. A3–31), who was born in 1933 and died at Auschwitz in 1944. The drawing was also likely made around 1940, when she was 7. Note that one of her houses is three-dimensional, something 7-year-olds are able to do.

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Figure A3–30. House drawing by Thomas Kauders.

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Figure A3–31. House drawing by Julia Ogularova.

A Special Case

One of the most remarkable results I have had in collecting these drawings was to find that a child in a small village in Mozambique in 2001 drew an almost identical house to one drawn by a Spanish child in 1938.

In 2001 my daughter Carol, who was then in the U.S. State Department, went to Mozambique. In a small village she visited, she was able to get this drawing by a 5-year-old girl named Erica Lagos (Fig. A3–32). Note the remarkable resemblance to the drawing by a Spanish child (p.229)

APPENDIX THREE Architecture: History and Practice

Figure A3–32. House drawing by Erica Lagos.

in 1938. The windows in both drawings are located at the outside edges of the house.

This seems to me to be clear evidence that neither child was drawing a picture of the house in which they lived (the child in Mozambique lived in a round wooden hut with no windows and no chimney). It also suggests that somewhere in the past our brains are hard-wired for this image.

Figure A3–33 is a copy of a summary page from a book by Rhoda Kellogg (1969, 1970), who had collected more than a million drawings by young children from all over the world. She shows here her analysis of some

APPENDIX THREE Architecture: History and Practice

Figure A3–33. Summary analysis of house drawings (Roberta Kellog).

(p.230) 2,951 drawings. Note the dominance in her analysis of the simple facade shown in my collection.

Possible Explanations

The case history of a young woman (DF) who suffered irreversible brain damage when she was exposed to carbon monoxide, as described by Melvyn A. Goodale (2000), provides a possible explanation to this performance by 5-year-old children. As a result of her accident, DF could not recognize the faces of her family and friends or identify common objects by their appearance. Her hearing was not damaged (that’s how she recognized members of her family). The damage was exclusively to her visual system.

Ten years after her accident, when she was shown a drawing of an apple or a book (like in Figs. A3–34 and A3–35), she could not identify the objects. She also was not able make a copy of the drawings of an apple or a book; she could only produce scribbles like those shown in Figure A3–36.

DF’s inability to make any more than scribbles was because her visual system did not allow her to perceive the shapes and forms in the original drawings. She was clearly able to use her hands to control drawing with a pencil, because when she was asked to draw both and apple and a book

APPENDIX THREE Architecture: History and Practice

Figure A3–34. Drawing of an apple.

APPENDIX THREE Architecture: History and Practice

Figure A3–35. Drawing of a book.

APPENDIX THREE Architecture: History and Practice

Figure A3–36. Scribbled drawing.

from memory she did a reasonable job (see her new drawing in Fig. A3–37). She had access to “low-level sensory information” (the basic stored images of things like an apple or a book).

It would seem possible that 5-year-old children whose corpus callosum (see Appendix 2) has not yet fully developed would lack the ability to perceive in one hemisphere and transfer that information to the opposite hemisphere to use in making drawings. However, when they are asked to make a drawing of a house, they call on the low-level sensory information stored in their memory and, with their limited drawing skills, produce the two-dimensional house drawings seen earlier in this section. How and why children all around the world have this identical image stored in memory is mystery I would like to solve.

APPENDIX THREE Architecture: History and Practice

Figure A3–37. Drawing of apple and book.

(p.232) Another Possibility

A second speculation is related to the discovery that there are voxels in right lingual sulcus (Fig. A3–38; see Appendix 2) that respond strongly (and almost exclusively) to images of buildings. This is similar to the voxels responsive to faces, but clearly a different set. There is a hypothesis by James Haxby (2001) that these voxels emerged in the period when we were hunter-gatherers—some 50,000 years ago. Our ancestors may have stored images of landscape configurations to find their way back to their community after they had been hunting. I wonder if a more powerful reason would be the need for everyone (not just hunters) to recognize his or her home. Over the centuries, this concept of home and house have merged in the brain to produce a stored primary image that is recalled by 5-year-old children. What that image actually looks like in the brain has not been discovered. Because children at age 5 have only limited ability to make drawings—they can draw a square, a triangle, a circle, and a free-form shape (according to Kellogg)—their representation of the house image they have in memory is the simple drawing shown in the examples.

APPENDIX THREE Architecture: History and Practice

Figure A3–38. Drawing of lingual sulcus.


Will Bruder has stressed that architecture is a marriage between poetry and pragmatism. Architects strive for this balance when exploring (p.233) qualities of spaces. The profession of architecture is typically thought of as a service industry (pragmatism); more important, it has been said that archi-tecture is the mother of all arts—full of passion, touching our souls (poetry). The architect provides very concrete functions, such as designing the dining room next to the kitchen; however, he or she also pro-vides many thoughtful intangibles that typically transcend a client’s expectations.

The practice of the profession of architecture is defined as rendering services that require the application of art, science, and aesthetics of design and construction of buildings, groups of buildings (including their com-ponents and appurtenances), and the spaces around them where in the safeguarding of life, health, property, and public welfare is concerned.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, from 1992 to 1994, the average American spent 87% of his or her time indoors. Just as scientists are inherently optimistic as they search for truths or cures, architects are very optimistic in believing they, too, will impact many lives. There are over 80,000 licensed architects in the American Institute of Architects (AIA; the largest architectural professional organization). Architects are generalists in that they have a broad knowledge base of many disciplines (structural engineering, sociology, business, etc.) while specializing in the practice of architecture. They are trained to be problem solvers. They seek the truth when they design a project. As Louis Kahn stated, “Architecture is the search for what a building wants to be. Form is what, design is how.” The collaboration with neuroscientists will allow us to understand why. Architecture is not about a predetermined applied style; it is about spaces for human use.

Design is an inherent collaboration between the architect and the client, consultants, contractor, and users/inhabitants. The consultant team might include only a few members (structural engineer, mechanical/plumbing engineer, electrical engineer, landscape architect for a residence) or many more for a large institutional project, such as an urban courthouse.

The architect leads the design team throughout the entire process of design and construction, maintaining the original vision of the project.

(p.234) Architectural Services

Though the kind of professional service provided to a client by an architectural firm is quite varied, the standard form of architect’s services proposed by the AIA includes the following.

  1. 1. Providing the overall administrative services for a project, representing the client. This includes managing and directing all consultants.

  2. 2. Providing other types of supporting services, such as arranging for geological studies of the site.

  3. 3. The architect’s design services—including those of structural, mechanical, and electrical engineering consultants, and other consultants as needed—that are usually in several phases and described in project methodology.

Project Methodology

Every project is new and requires fresh background research and approach. The methodology for each project is, however, essentially similar.

  1. 1. Predesign and Programming: The architect meets with the client or client group; together, they determine preliminary needs and scope, including budget and schedule. Square footage needs as well as detailed needs are determined. Relationships and adjacencies of the required spaces are determined. Site analysis, long-range or master planning, and/or feasibility studies may be conducted. During this time, especially on institutional or commercial projects, an exhaustive case study search is conducted. Similar to a literature review, the design team seeks to understand what has previously been done and learned for the project type or related project types. Programming typically results in a document that the team uses and refers to throughout the entire design process.

  2. 2. Schematic Design Phase: A project concept or hypothesis is formed during this phase (a potential area for collaboration with neuroscientists). Designs are preliminary and based on information discussed with the client. This phase will often include three-dimensional models as well as drawings of the proposed design.

  3. (p.235)
  4. 3. Design Development Phase: This phase includes the refinement of the design developed in schematic designs, and includes plans, sections, elevations, construction details, and equipment layout. Written specifications for all of the materials and systems to be used are prepared.

  5. 4. Construction Documents Phase: Documents are further detailed and refined. Completed documents are sealed by the licensed architect (and consultants) and ready to be given to the contractor for bids. Other methods, such as design-build or construction management, allow for the contractor to participate early on in design (from programming or schematic design) and help track costs.

  6. 5. Bidding: For most clients, the architect arranges for contractors to bid (or sometimes negotiate a price) and prepares legal documents for the owner to use in contracts for the work.

  7. 6. Construction Administration: The architect will observe the work being done by contractors and prepare periodic reports for the client. This is to ensure intent of the project concept is continued during the construction and detail level. Often times, conflicts or unforeseen circumstances require in-the-field design modifications. In some cases, the architectural firm may continue to work with the client as facility managers. They provide continued service to the client during their transition into the new building, including helping with furniture, fixtures, and equipment installation.

  8. 7. Postoccupancy Evaluation (POE): More firms are conducting evaluations of the projects after a sufficient length of occupancy—usually a year or more. This may be done informally and anecdotally through meetings with the client or it may be done formally. A formal POE may include observation, questionnaires, focus groups, interviews, and facility data analysis (an area of service that could usefully provide material for hypotheses to be tested by neuroscientists).

Project Tools

Hand drawing and model making are still fundamental skills of an architect, using pencil or ink on vellum, Mylar, sketch paper, or napkins, and constructing scale models out of chip board, balsa wood, or foam core. A team working together in one location is still the preferred method; (p.236) however, the computer has become the dominant tool of the profession and allows design teams to work remotely on a project. Software is being created constantly that allows for collision detection between the disciplines (e.g., a pipe that should not be intersecting a beam), 3D modeling, and an increasing amount of data to be contained within the drawings.


According to the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB), “All States, the District of Columbia, and four U.S. territories (Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands) require individuals to be licensed (registered) before they may call themselves architects or contract to provide architectural services.” Many architecture school graduates are employed in the field even though they are not licensed or while they are in the process of becoming licensed.

A licensed architect is required to take legal responsibility for all of his or her work. Licensure requirements usually include a professional degree in architecture (typically a 5-year program), a period of practical training or internship (commonly 3 years), and passage of all divisions of the Architect Registration Examination (ARE). On successful passing of the ARE, a license is granted to practice in that jurisdiction only. To practice in other jurisdictions, the architect must apply for reciprocity—either to the individual jurisdiction or to NCARB for certification.

Schools of Architecture

There are more than 100 university-level educational programs of architecture in the United States. There are also many educational programs that provide 2 years of preparation for architectural technicians (who tend to be draftsmen or computer operators). Forty-five architectural programs are based on obtaining a BArch or BS in architecture (p.237) degree at the end of 5 years. Ninety-two architectural programs are based on 2 or 3 years of graduate study—usually after a 4-year degree in environmental design—resulting in an MArch or MS in architecture degree. One school, the University of Hawaii, gives a doctorate of architecture degree at the end of 2 or 3 years of graduate studies. There are 29 architectural programs at the doctorate level. They range over a wide spectrum of subject matter (see Fig. A3–39).

APPENDIX THREE Architecture: History and Practice

Figure A3–39. Chart of university programs. Developed by Meredith Bazniak.

Graduate programs at the Ph.D. level are the norm in neuroscience programs and the exception in schools of architecture. The 29 schools of architecture that do have doctoral programs have a wide range of intellectual interests. These interests range from programs devoted to “history and theory” (most of them) that tend to be scholarly in terms of history and obtuse in terms of theory. Candidates in these programs are not likely to be interested in learning about neuroscience. However, there are 10 or 12 doctoral programs in architecture schools that include science and engineering research. These schools include such subjects as computer simulation and design, behavioral science studies of children in schools or patients in a hospital, and building systems studies where interdisciplinary (p.238) research explores new systems development. Candidates in these more technically oriented programs might be interested in exploring interdisciplinary programs with neuroscience students.

Finding Ph.D. candidates in neuroscience programs that are willing and able to orient their studies to include one or more of the hypotheses listed throughout this book will be difficult at first. However, if funding for such studies becomes available (and funding from traditional sources become scarce), there will be greater probability of finding recruits.

My personal bias is to have neuroscience students provided with one semester of courses especially prepared for them to assist them in learning enough about architecture and building science to frame their thesis projects in directions that will be valuable to the architectural profession. I find it unlikely (but not impossible) that graduate architecture students will be able to acquire the necessary knowledge of neuroscience (which would need to be more than is included in this book) in less than several years. It is conceivable that bright and ambitious architectural doctoral candidates could learn enough in a special neuroscience course to collaborate with experienced neuroscientists. How to get universities to invest in the preparation of the one semester’s content for architecture students or for neuroscience students will again be a challenge. Wealthy individuals or organizations like the National Science Foundation, who become interested in the potential such programs could offer, might be persuaded to endow these linking programs.


  • Architecture:

    The art and science of designing places for human habitation. Or, the sum of all of those buildings forming a category—for example, Colonial architecture. Or, the products resulting from the services of architects with shared value systems—for example, modern architecture.

  • Baldachin:

    The topmost element in an elaborate altar (as at St. Peter’s in Rome).

  • (p.239)
  • Barrel vault:

    A continuous tunnel formed by extending a round arch over and over.

    APPENDIX THREE Architecture: History and Practice

    Figure A3–40. Barrel vault.

  • Beams:

    The horizontal components of a structural system that carries a load.

    APPENDIX THREE Architecture: History and Practice

    Figure A3–41. Post and beam.

  • Entasis:

    The curved surface of an upright member.

  • Facade:

    The “face” of a building as seen from one side.

  • Fan vaulting:

    An elaborate structural design in the ceiling of late Gothic cathedrals produced by a series of arched sections.

  • Flying buttress:

    the structural component of a Gothic cathedral that is located outside the walls of the building and extended across an opening to gather the thrust from the inner arches. (p.240)

    APPENDIX THREE Architecture: History and Practice

    Figure A3–42. Flying buttress.

  • Harmony:

    A pleasing or congruent arrangements of parts.

  • Mortice-and-tenon:

    A way of fastening two elements together by creating a wedge that fits into a notch in order to be secured.

    APPENDIX THREE Architecture: History and Practice

    Figure A3–43. Wedge.

  • Orders:

    A term used to apply to a category of designs, as in the Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian orders of Greek architecture.

  • Pitched:

    A term used to describe a roof that slopes at an angle as contrasted to flat.

  • Places:

    A term used in this book for buildings, malls, parks, and so on.

  • Plumbed:

    A term used in describing a process for measuring if something is upright.

  • Pointed arch:

    Formed by stones or brick arranged to form a pointed round pattern. (p.241)

    APPENDIX THREE Architecture: History and Practice

    Figure A3–44. Pointed arch.

  • Post:

    In simple structures, the vertical member of structural system.

  • Prototype:

    A design that serves as a model for future design decisions.

  • Round arch:

    Formed by stones or bricks arranged in a circular pattern.

    APPENDIX THREE Architecture: History and Practice

    Figure A3–45. Round arch.

  • Scale:

    An indication of size as in large scale structures.

  • Spaces:

    A term used in this book for where we have personal experiences.

  • Stacked masonry units:

    A wall consisting of stones or bricks stacked on top of one another—usually forming a structural wall in older buildings.