How Architecture Makes Us Feel – Matters!

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said,
people will forget what you did,
but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
― Maya Angelou

121seaport

Sharp edges on the new, shiny glass tower at 121 Seaport, Boston, say, “You don’t matter.”

Maya got that right: people never forget how you make them feel. The same could be said of the buildings we live and work in. Who would want to enter the new glass box at left?

A recent BBC article describes The Hidden Ways That Architecture Affects Us—how “buildings and cities can affect our mood and well-being, and that specialized cells in the hippocampal region of our brains are attuned to the geometry and arrangement of spaces we inhabit.”

These scientific studies reveal that people embrace green spaces, patterns, colors and curves, while we shun sharp edges, blank facades and vast, unsheltered spaces. Buildings speak to us – wordlessly saying:

“Come stay with us.”
“I’m here for you,” or
“You don’t matter at all.”

And people respond accordingly, approaching or avoiding a place—or entire sections of a city.

On a recent trip to the Seaport District in Boston, we paid particular attention to the sentiments in the air, comparing the old and new blocks by the ocean.

summerstreet

Visit my space,” the old brick building on Summer Street said.

conventioncenter

“Stay away,” the Boston Convention Center told us.

milkbottle

“Bring the kids,” boomed the antique Milk Bottle.

patio

“Enjoy my harbor view,” said the patio.

And we came away with one certain conviction: the old blocks beckon much more than the shiny, new ones do.

We saw that buildings and blocks can be unforgettable depending on how they made us feel. And come to think of it, it can’t be any other way, of course, for like with people—how they make us feel is what really matters.

Author: Janice M. Ward,
Editor: Ann Sussman

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