Reading the Room

Using Signage to Create Healthy and Vibrant ADA-Compliant Spaces
Sponsored by Inpro
By Erika Fredrickson
1 AIA LU/HSW; *1 ADA State Accessibility/Barrier-Free; 0.1 ICC CEU; 0.1 IACET CEU*; 1 AIBD P-CE; AAA 1 Structured Learning Hour; This course can be self-reported to the AANB, as per their CE Guidelines; AAPEI 1 Structured Learning Hour; This course can be self-reported to the AIBC, as per their CE Guidelines.; MAA 1 Structured Learning Hour; This course can be self-reported to the NLAA.; This course can be self-reported to the NSAA; NWTAA 1 Structured Learning Hour; OAA 1 Learning Hour; SAA 1 Hour of Core Learning

Learning Objectives:

  1. Discuss how signage has evolved to create more welcoming spaces in support of occupant well-being.
  2. Identify the latest signage material and manufacturing processes and their impact on occupant safety.
  3. Describe the liability exposure building owners face for non-compliance with ADA.
  4. Explain how ADA compliance leads to healthier, safer, and more welcoming environments.

This course is part of the ADA Academy

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There’s a Science to It

Providing evidence that art impacts humans in these spaces is one aspect of the research. The other question is: How or why? Neuro-architectural design or neuro-architecture science, is an emerging field that explores the relationship between architecture, neuroscience, and cognitive science. It aims to understand how the built environment impacts human behavior, cognition, emotions, and overall well-being by examining the neural responses and physiological reactions of individuals in different architectural settings.

The concept of neuro-architecture recognizes that our brains are constantly processing sensory information from the environment, and the design of spaces can influence our neural activity and cognitive processes. By applying scientific methods and knowledge from neuroscience, researchers in this field seek to uncover the underlying mechanisms through which architectural features, such as spatial layout, lighting, colors, materials, acoustics, and aesthetics, affect our neural responses and psychological states.

Neuro-architecture combines principles from neuroscience, psychology, architecture, and design to create spaces that are more supportive, engaging, and conducive to specific activities or goals. For example, in healthcare settings, neuro-architecture research may inform the design of hospital rooms and waiting areas to reduce stress and promote healing by considering factors like natural light, views of nature, calming colors, and noise reduction. It also examines how architectural design can optimize cognitive performance and well-being in other contexts, such as workplaces, schools, retail environments, and urban planning. By understanding how the brain processes environmental stimuli and how architecture can influence neural activity, designers can create spaces that enhance productivity, creativity, focus, and overall satisfaction.

In a recent article in Architectural Products by Jessica Shaw, ASID, pointed to new research showing art’s impact on the brain to stimulate new neural pathways and ways of thinking. Through studies using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and brain-wave scanning, researchers were able to see that:

  • Pleasure centers in the brain are triggered by viewing art and images
  • In addition, several other areas of the brain can be stimulated
  • Brain-wave research shows that engaging with art triggers the brain’s work to form meaning

The implication of these studies is that art and imagery can play a role in greater cognitive functioning and creativity through brain stimulation. Two-dimensional art in the workplace can take two main forms: Printed wall art in frames or non-framed, and large graphics printed on durable impact-resistant panels.

According to Upali Nanda, a professor of architecture at the University of Michigan, art has multiple functions in a space, including creating a lasting impression, offering a positive diversion, evoking awe, and aiding in wayfinding. By encountering familiar artworks, individuals can easily orient themselves within a building, identify their intended destination, and navigate their way there. Studies have demonstrated that familiar and tranquil nature imagery tends to have the most calming effect. For that reason, healthcare facilities often find fine art photography featuring natural scenes to be an ideal choice.

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Originally published in Architectural Record
Originally published in July 2023