It’s not often that we take a closer look at the places we inhabit and use often, even though there could be the potential for some valuable architectural lessons. Why are certain buildings successful? Why are others less so?
In her Metropolis Magazine column “Places that Work,” Sally Augustin, a principle at Design With Science and author of Place Advantage: Applied Psychology for Interior Architecture, examines the reasons for success of various public buildings. Her first article discussed the importance of the abundance of warm natural light in Grand Central Terminal, and she has since argued for the success of the extravagant ornamentation in the light court of The Rookery in Chicago, the calm color palette of Apple Stores, and heated sidewalks in the small town of Holland, Michigan.
In her article on the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Augustin simply states, “places succeed when they support people’s activities.” While there’s truth to this statement and many of the others that come up in the column, it’s not about providing a recipe for success. In the end, what is most interesting in Augustin’s column is her ability to highlight our often strong psychological response to architecture. It may not be an easily measurable factor of success, but nevertheless an integral part of design.