Regional and Urban Design Committee

 View Only

Community HTML


Quick Links

Who we are

The Regional and Urban Design Committee (RUDC) aims to improve the quality of the regional and urban environment by promoting excellence in design, planning, and public policy in the built environment. This will be achieved through its member and public education, in concert with allied community and professional groups. Join us!

Expand all | Collapse all

Study-#1 Results: Eye Tracking Public Architecture

  • 1.  Study-#1 Results: Eye Tracking Public Architecture

    Posted 10-02-2022 10:14 PM

    by Ann Sussman, RA + Hernan Rosas

    The results are in for Study #1: Eye Tracking Public Architecture. How do people look at these buildings? What immediately draws their eye? Do some buildings make people feel happy and others less so? How does architecture enhance or degrade the public realm? 

  • 2.  RE: Study-#1 Results: Eye Tracking Public Architecture

    Posted 10-03-2022 08:26 PM
    Exceptionally simplistic; it's not where the eye goes that matters it's what the mind and body do with the information gained which has significance 
    What ideas are remembered or promoted: what movements are induced; how are those processed by the mind and what encounters do those bring about in our lives and sense of well-being?
    Donlyn Lyndon FAIA
    Architecture and Place
    510 910 6350

  • 3.  RE: Study-#1 Results: Eye Tracking Public Architecture

    Posted 10-03-2022 09:10 PM
    Thinking matters...but not as much as we think!

    Our cognition is's influenced by physical + emotional responses that are subliminal + we don't control!

    Evolution has essentially preset our response to stimuli...this is why Stop signs are red worldwide;
    It's also why buildings – worldwide – featured face-like facades + dripped with ornament + detail up until WWI;

    To take the primate brain out of its vigilant state, nature's preset what we need to see...much as she preset how our daily need for water + air!

    Can't be any other way!

    More here:


  • 4.  RE: Study-#1 Results: Eye Tracking Public Architecture

    Posted 10-04-2022 05:34 PM

    I can't argue with the findings but I'm with Lyndon here - the images of "modern" buildings that are used in the study are not great examples.
    We have learned much since most of those buildings were built.
    It clear that the images were selected to prove the thesis.

    There are modern buildings that hold our interest having elements that hold the observant eye.
    More studies like this are needed to get to the source of our perceptions.

    Kimble Hobbs AIA, NCARB
    Arch 11
    Boulder CO

  • 5.  RE: Study-#1 Results: Eye Tracking Public Architecture

    Posted 10-05-2022 05:35 PM
    The eye in the study is not tracking architecture, it is reacting to a photograph. Architecture is experienced multi-dimensionally and in person.

    Sent from my iPhone

  • 6.  RE: Study-#1 Results: Eye Tracking Public Architecture

    Posted 10-07-2022 11:45 AM
    And remember that what really counts is seeing in person on the ground, not images, certainly not images alone. On the other hand the selection of what aspect to photograph could be considered and yield interesting results. Another point about images of buildings: vertical perspective is usually altered in order to make the building look more upright in the image. That of course is not how it is seen on the ground through the eyes of a person. Yet another consideration should be movement, that takes on the understanding of the search for that most attractive spot.  Then there can be the appeal of the building as a whole being seen and perceived throughout. It is important because the front on view will be much about seeing and finding the entrance. That idea causes me to recall seeing a house in Jackson, Mississippi, a facade that was seen as that of a grand southern mansion, whereas from a back street you clearly see that the rest of the house was a mobile home! 

    Knowing more about this really could be useful for advancing the quality of design outcomes. 

    Roy F. Knight, FAIA, NCARB

  • 7.  RE: Study-#1 Results: Eye Tracking Public Architecture

    Posted 10-07-2022 12:01 PM
    While this  study is interesting and may be valuable for guiding  computers of driverless cars, for example, it stops short.  A coldly scientific, uber-STEM approach to analyzing architecture that doesn't address the cultural aspects of design is incomplete.  It does, intentionally or not, imply that Robert Venturi was right when he showed us, in this modern age, how buildings act sometimes as 'signs' and have something to say. When that signage is in a language that we all understand we tend to pay attention more. When the building employs a 'facade' and the symbolism applied is recognizable we tend to take note. The last federal administration promoted a certain perceived sense of culture in proposing federal building guidelines saying that new projects should have a 'Classical' theme. Most architects afraid of creativity infringement fought against this tooth and nail.  While I do not propose a return to Post-Modernism, a movement that started brilliantly but died an ugly death, I do think that there are some bridges to be built that connect opposing ideas of what is good public architecture.
    Andre A. Larroque, AIA, CSI, NCARB

  • 8.  RE: Study-#1 Results: Eye Tracking Public Architecture

    Posted 10-07-2022 12:25 PM
    The issue, Andre, is architects don't understand or study how human visual perception works – unlike car companies, tech businesses, advertisers or retailers! They have to know it !

    The first phase of human visual perception is subliminal...'first glance'...and that unconscious behavior provides the foundation for conscious experience.

    There is new software out, 3M VAS (Visual Attention Software), now a plug-in for Photoshop that addresses this; here's what my students have done with it:

    If you'd like more info, feel free to contact me:



  • 9.  RE: Study-#1 Results: Eye Tracking Public Architecture

    Posted 10-07-2022 01:27 PM
    This is of major concern, because architecture is by people for people. I agree one hundred percent. However such a study should include the cultural perspective because there are interesting differences of interests and aspects of desire that apply.  For example some cultures are more comfortable in high density areas and some like more open space. There are also subcultures within cultures. There are two Federal Courthouses built before the idea of making all federal buildings in the traditional form in the State of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, and Mobile. The one in Tuscaloosa is a very classical Greek design by Hammond Beeby Rupert Ainge, Chicago. The one in Mobile looks like the 1920's classical-ish.   The story there is that  quite elegan modern design was prepared by Moshe Safdi, but the Citizens of Mobile loudly rejected it.  Hartman, Cox of Washington D.C. Designed it.  The culture of Alabama is very conservative-traditionalist, and the rejection of the safdi design could be considered an example of cultural influence in this subject. 

  • 10.  RE: Study-#1 Results: Eye Tracking Public Architecture

    Posted 10-06-2022 12:31 PM
    Thinking about Jan Gehl's observation about the ground floor being where the building meets the city, you could argue that every building where the eye is more focused on the upper floors than the ground floor (eg both examples above?) is a poor contributor to the liveliness of the public realm. At least the building on the right makes an effort to address the street,  with what look like storefronts at the ground floor.  That's certainly where my eye is drawn.

    Yann Taylor AIA
    Field Paoli Architects
    San Francisco CA

  • 11.  RE: Study-#1 Results: Eye Tracking Public Architecture

    Posted 10-06-2022 12:47 PM
    What's important to understand is that we see the world like an animal + our subliminal brain directs our conscious experience; evolution wouldn't have it any other way!

    Our iMotions research makes this clear! So does this new Plug-in for Photoshop: 3M VAS (Visual Attention Software)

    And you are all welcome to take part in on-going BiometricBuilding Studies, using iMotions-online, + forward the link here: 

    ?s – Feel free to reach out to me: