Sally Augustin

Places That Work: Mayan Temples

We get definite psychological benefits from feeling a sense of awe, so says recent research by Rudd, Vohs, and Aaker. Places that work can make us feel that rare emotion, as these researchers learned. In their study of people “who…

Places That Work: Rocking Chairs in Waiting Areas

Air travel is a miserable experience these days and giving travelers some sense control makes the process somewhat less onerous. Some U.S. airports, for instance, provide rocking chairs for waiting passengers. These rockers offer another seating option to people, and…

Places that Work: Soundcape

In Orlando’s Peabody Hotel’s public spaces, a positive experience is created by the sounds of water flowing and splashing. Gently moving water makes us comfortable. Its rhythmic, primal sounds soothe away the everyday stresses of modern life. Though we have…

Places that Work: U.S. Botanic Gardens

The United States Botanic Garden in Washington DC is a place that works because the greenhouses there stimulate all our senses. Transmitting experiences of a place through several senses is a central tenet of biophilic design. And at the Botanic…

Places That Work: Hearths

Even in our high tech age, hearths continue to enhance our experience of the rooms where they appear. The psychological power of a glowing, cracking fire safely tucked into a generous niche endures even though we no longer depend on…

Places that Work: A Generative Space

Wilson Hospice House, designed by Perkins + Will, won the 2011 Caritas Project’s Generative Space Award. It is definitely a space that works. The recognition the hospice has received is appropriate because its design has a special psychological effect on…

Places That Work: The Power of Skylights

The Arthur M. Sackler Gallery of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC is almost entirely under ground, yet this is a place that works. It was designed by Jean-Paul Carlhian of Shepley, Bulfinch, Richardson and Abbott and opened in 1987.…

Places That Work: Hirshhorn

The building that houses the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden is an exquisite disc that enhances the National Mall in Washington, DC.  Affiliated with the Smithsonian Institute, the Hirshhorn is shaped like a perfectly round donut that rests on four…

Places that Work: A Small Gallery

The small gallery at the Art Institute of Chicago with Chagall’s America Windows is a place that works, mostly, despite the fact that the flow of the space is interrupted by columns. Interestingly, these obstructions--the columns—may even enhance the experience…

Places that Work: Welcoming Canine Companions

Recently while visiting The Shops at the North Bridge mall in Chicago, I came across a kind gesture: an amenity for people’s canine companions. This pet comfort station provides water and treats and clean-up bags for the responsible parties traveling…

Places that Work

Thomas Edison’s and Henry Ford’s winter estates are places that work because they recognize and respect the natural environments in which they are located.  Most of the rooms in the original buildings are entered directly from outside and there are…

Places that Work: An Alpine Gem

Prestigious hotels often feature formal common spaces with high ceilings, stylishly uncomfortable furniture, and a stuffy staff. So I was delighted to experience the unexpected recently, when I happened on the library at the Four Seasons in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.…

Places That Work

The Baha’i House of Worship in Wilmette, Illinois stops you in your tracks. And this makes it a place that works. Its curving form and decorated surfaces force you to notice it. And since most visitors are not familiar with…

Places that Work: A Guest Tower

‘Tis visiting season. People are traveling to see friends and family members while the weather is generally pleasant. Humans are territorial animals, however, which is one of the reasons that those visits are seldom tension-free. We feel most comfortable when…

Places that Work: HOK's New York Office

Individuals send messages about themselves that they feel are important and set a mood through the way they personalize their homes – they make certain sorts of experiences more likely than others. Organizations also convey information and produce psychological effects…

Places that Work: The Urban Garden Room

The Urban Garden Room at One Bryant Park (Bank of America Tower by Cook + Fox Architects) in New York City is a place that works – and not simply because of its greenery and daylight. These elements appeal to…

Places that Work: Seattle Central Library

The Seattle Central Library works so well because of something obvious: its architects carefully considered the role of a public library during its projected lifetime and designed it accordingly. When Rem Koolhaas, Joshua Prince-Ramus of OMA/LMN, and their teams set…

Places That Work: Soane House

Courtesy of the Trustees of Sir John Soane’s Museum. Photo: Martin Charles We have a fundamental psychological need to express who we think we are by personalizing our homes which, in turn, give us comfort and solace. Our personalized rooms…

Places that Work: The Gensler Chicago Library

The library at Gensler’s Chicago office is a satisfying space in many ways. By being situated on one of the design firm’s main circulation routes, this resource room naturally occupies the center of the action. The materials and catalogs that…

Places That Work: A Chicago park bench

A curving bench dominates the pocket park next to the Chicago Temple, at the corner of Washington and Clark. The first time I walked by it, I realized that this piece of furniture is a masterpiece, psychologically speaking. Research tells…

Places that Work: Holland's Sidewalks

Years ago, a small town in Michigan, best known for its annual tulip festival, diverted waste heat from its power plant into pipes that run under streets and sidewalks in the central business district.  For generations Hollanders have appreciated their…

Places that Work: Milwaukee Art Museum

Image courtesy the Milawaukee Art Museum, Photo: Timothy Hursley. Whenever I’m in the Quadracci Pavilion at the Milwaukee Art Museum, I have to catch my breath. Being there is an exhilarating, intensely positive experience. The space works hard to prepare visitors…

Places that Work: IND Airport

While checking in at the Indianapolis International Airport, I was thrilled to find a number of biophilic design principles in use, particularly in the airport’s Civic Plaza. IND is the first greenfield airport built after 9/11, designed by HOK, and…

Places that Work: The Grainger Ballroom

The Grainger Ballroom, in the Chicago Symphony Orchestra (CSO) building, is a terrific place for listening to music. It’s a room where the design works to make the audience comfortable, and this, in turn, allows us to respond emotionally to…

Places that Work: Miniature Rooms

A15: New York Parlor, 1850–1870, c.1940, Mrs. James Ward Thorne, Miniature Room, Mixed Media, Interior:  12 3/8 x 17 1/2 x  21 in., Scale: 1 inch = 1 foot, Gift of Mrs. James Ward Thorne. The Thorne Miniature Rooms at the Art Institute…

Places that Work: Art Gallery in Christchurch

Courtesy of The Buchan Group. Photographer: Murray Hedwig At the Christchurch Art Gallery in New Zealand, you can observe how the building’s   design connects to the natural environment that surrounds it, as well as its cultural ties to the town…

Places that Work: A Rural Library

Library visits may be fewer in December and January as avid readers plow through their holiday cache of books. But that trend might not apply to the Round Top Family Library in rural Round Top, Texas. Here, on a recent…

Places that Work: The Swedish Embassy

The House of Sweden (Swedish Embassy) in Washington, DC is a striking manifestation of Swedish culture; in fact it may be among the best architectural embodiments of culture/brand I’ve ever visited. As the year winds down, you may see this…

Places that Work: Apple Stores

Setting the right mood and sending the right message are keys to the success of any space, whether it’s your design for a holiday party or architects’ spaces for successful retail environments. The Apple stores, designed by Bohlin Cywinski Jackson,…

Places that Work: A Room at the Met

Places succeed when they support people’s activities. An office works when employees can collaborate and concentrate, whenever they need to do so. A concert hall performs well when the whole audience can see and hear. Such places are designed to…

Places that Work: Palmer House Lobby

Privacy, both physical and electronic, is a hot topic these days. The recent uproar surrounding Google’s changes to their privacy policies shows just how much it matters in virtual space. So does the continuing battle we wage to keep our…

Places that Work: II, The Rookery

On a recent visit to Chicago, I ducked into the light court at The Rookery on the corner of Adams and LaSalle. I do this every time I’m in this city on the lake, because I love the space. As…