Alexandra Lange
Architecture & design critic

Science Gets Around to Architecture

Jonah Lehrer’s April 30 “Head Case” column in the Wall Street Journal, “Building a Thinking Room,” is the kind of mainstream reporting on architectural matters that always makes my blood boil.

For thousands of years, people have talked about architecture in terms of aesthetics. Whether discussing the symmetry of the Parthenon or the cladding on the latest Manhattan skyscraper, they focus first on how the buildings look, on their particular surfaces and style.
If this were a student paper, I would circle that people. Which people? In which decade, much less century? All people until you, Jonah Lehrer, decided it was worthy of your interest? The substance of the article is new research by scientists that show that “architecture and design can influence our moods, thoughts and health.” To which anyone involved for the past thousands of years in architecture and design can only respond, No duh. Nice of science to finally catch up.