Architects are Trying to Save the World, but How?

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Architects are trying to save the world — or so goes the theory of one of my professors in school. The underlying assumption is that architects are in essence problem solvers. I find it fascinating that many famous "rock star architects," once established, channel their energies into helping the world at large. If I had to choose one problem to solve, it would be humanity’s lack of connection with each other and with the environment.

Guardians of Public Safety, Creators of Comfort

Our need for connection is why we need quality architectural design today. Architects do more than draw up a building; we can connect on a higher level with each client on each project in a special way. Meeting financial goals is important, as is increasing the enjoyment of life. Ultimately, we as architects are guardians of public safety. This can mean many things. Safety is security and security is comfort. Living in the present moment helps us exist in peace individually, together, and with our natural surroundings. When you’re in a space that lifts your spirits, you’re more likely to engage with others in a positive way.

For me, I’m not looking for a one-size-fits-all solution. I’m looking for someone who has a specific need or challenge. To help with that, I realize people are spending more time indoors, and I believe biophilic design and 5 Senses Design™ can re-establish connections between people and the world around them.

Bringing the Outdoors In with 5 Senses Design™

Photos of landscape views and selfies with a beautiful sunset in the background are trending. Unfortunately, many people will see that picture but not venture out to experience it themselves. Perhaps they feel it’s out of reach, or after they scroll, that they’ve already experienced it. Yet 5 Senses Design™ creates multiple connections to an event — a true experience happens when we see it, yes, but also hear, taste, smell, and touch it.

Many people spend time sitting at desks looking at photos, rather than diving into to an experience. Marketing furthers the idea that the home is safer. The way sunscreen is advertised, it’s as if the outdoors is dangerous, and cleaning products are positioned to make us think subconsciously that the outside is dirty. Through my 5 Senses Design™, I want people to feel both safe in their homes and connected to the outdoors … and motivated to go out and experience it hands on.

This balance of safety and comfort with motivation and movement is key. Comfort zones can be extended beyond four walls. Forest bathing is a great example — natural therapy guides bring groups together for mindful walks through the woods, where they savor the taste of a wild berry, the texture of a leaf. Studies show that walking is productive for conversation, and stimulates creativity.

Extending the Home to the Community

I know I feel most engaged when I’m walking or sailing. As I come up with architectural solutions, I don’t consider design as starting at the front door and ending at the back door. The sensory and biophilic home connects to the site, considers how to frame views, welcome the daylight, orient to the sun and the shadows, and how to expand spaces to take in that enjoyment of the outdoors. We can transition from the indoors to a porch, to a pool, then a path that leads to the garden and eventually extends to the neighborhood. Good architectural design links us to our environment, and to each other.

My work naturally erodes that boundary — it welcomes the outdoors in. That sense of teamwork happens at the grassroots of the design process. When you bring together an architect, with a landscape architect, interior designer, structural engineer, and mechanical engineer, those five people can coordinate to meet the client’s needs as well as the world’s desperate need for connection.

Our planet population is 7.6 billion people (and counting). The built world of cities, homes, and neighborhoods influences how, and if, people create meaningful connections with each other. Walls can serve as separators or connectors. At the zoo, floor-to-ceiling glass walls allow humans to be on the same level as the animals. A little girl can play inches away from a tiger. She may see the tiger sleeping, grooming, gazing, and it may pounce suddenly; all the while they are both safe. Apply that concept to a home or office. The occupant can have nature at his fingertips. It doesn’t have to be a tiger on the other side, maybe it’s a beautiful landscape that you’ve cultivated. Perhaps an outdoor shower ceiling opens to the stars, providing what would otherwise be an unattainable connection. A good architect can give that balance of comfort and adventure — transitioning spaces that excite and soothe the senses

Custom-designed new construction homes for all

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"An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." -Benjamin Franklin

Franklin was referencing fire protection, though his philosophy relates to many fields, including architecture. In his time, the community believed people were lucky to get out alive … and inevitably, the building burned down. "This is just what happens," I imagine they repeated. No, Franklin said, instead of residents having to find wells to put the fire out, what if we provided a vehicle, driven by professionals, to save lives and prevent property damage? It had never been thought of before. In the same way, people of our time accept that new construction homes inevitably cost too much. Yet, a custom-designed new construction home from a boutique architectural firm isn’t exclusively for celebrities; it’s possible for all. It’s not an issue of cost; it’s an issue of perception. Many think an architect as someone who does drawings for permits, but the reality is the architect can, and should, do a lot more.

If we’ve never lived on the moon, we can’t understand what that could be like. The difference between living on the moon and living on earth is unfathomable. Yet the difference between an economy sedan and a luxury sedan, a suit versus your favorite jeans, traveling in coach rather than first class … we can at least imagine the difference. If given the choice, we’d choose luxury. But what if you could pay the same amount to sit in first class as to sit in coach?

As an architect, I see custom-designed new construction homes as a financially feasible option, just as affordable as buying a home or renovating an existing one. Because big construction developers tend to cater to the cookie cutter design approach that fits the masses, it’s frustrating that people continue to line up for it. The ‘prize’ is that they relinquish their control and hand off their checkbooks and often pay twice as much for materials, compared to what they would pay an architect. This is because high-end approaches are beyond the developers’ reach. I’m stunned to find even athletes and actors pay high prices for low-quality design.

My firm is a boutique firm that tailors each design to the client’s needs –– and budget. All developers and architects have different processes. Some are fast food; some are gourmet. From the start, our gourmet process finds solutions that support and enhance your life.

Many people are surprised to find that the cost for my service isn’t out of reach. By comparison, I feel some developers may be providing fast food at a gourmet rate. Why would somebody pay $800,000 for a $400,000 home?

To avoid paying unnecessarily high costs, here are the signs to be aware of:

1) The first point of contact is a salesperson.

2) The second person is a project manager, who has likely been a salesman or in this firm for enough time to understand the process. However, the manager doesn’t fully understand the techniques needed to successfully complete the project.

3) You never meet the architects. They never ask you what you need. All of this is just sort of "ready bake."

Whereas when you come to an architect directly, you can share your vision. The architect is an active listener and a problem-solver who wants to identify your needs and what it would mean for your life to become even better, all the while keeping the client in the driver’s seat. When an architect provides the time and resources so that the client can make the best decision … that’s a good sign.

A good architect plans ahead. Our team saves you more money because we save time and frustration that you would otherwise have with change orders –– things you notice in a ready bake project that need to be corrected, changed or upgraded because you aren't happy with what you see. Unfortunately, some of these discoveries happen AFTER you've moved in when it's too late. Things like shoddy quality, traffic paths that don't make sense, hard- or expensive-to-maintain aspects. Hiring an architect to create a custom-designed new construction home is for the person who is willing to invest in material quality and design foresight. They recognize that the home will in a large part determine their happiness, and they want to avoid spending more over the long term for an inferior result.

My firm’s 5 Senses Design™, biophilic and universal design approaches set us apart. Through this lens, we connect with our clients. Is it important for you to be on the same page with the people you’re working with? I assume the answer is yes. Solving a problem with someone you trust and can communicate with is a lot easier, correct?

Just as we connect with the client, biophilic design connects my clients with the world around them to enhance their health and productivity. There is a certain thoughtfulness and sophistication that comes with a biophilic design. For example, an expansive glass wall can welcome the outdoors in. Even the materials we specify are chosen for their contribution to the desired result. They aren't just "standard," one-size-fits-all. We make the designs unique and understand the problem – allergies, hobbies that require a supportive space, a desire to be more connected to nature – and create the solution that will fit in with the context of the client’s lifestyle.

Universal design is designed for the future. If an in-law comes to age in place in your home, you won’t have to endure a costly renovation. That’s because the elements of the existing design have already been prepared for it – for instance, a grab shelf that doesn’t look like a grab bar, or framework in place for elevators. People often think of elevators as too expensive or lavish, but in the present, they provide a much grander feel … and accommodate future needs.

All in all, timeless design is important to me. A custom-designed new construction home is possible for all. You can have a balanced, practical and beautiful home. It doesn’t have to be cookie-cutter.

Wellness by design: Self care is health care

I’ve noticed the phrase “self care is health care” on the news. Here’s my take on it as an architect ...

Disconnecting from devices and enjoying nature is a form of self care. Clients who benefit from my 5 Senses Design™ embrace home life outside the Internet; likewise, my biophilic designs encourage interaction between nature and the indoors. “What Happened When I Went on a Staycation with No Electricity” in the Huffington Post explores how self care is health care, too. A break from modern amenities can open our minds to new experiences.

That said, we do need electricity to function in our day to day life. My job as an architect is to unite the two lifestyles, bringing the outdoors in and the indoors out. Mindfully designed architecture promotes self care.

Organic Spa Magazine puts it well: "Every thought we engage, every attitude we embrace, every action we enact impacts our health profile … As you nurture your soul, you allow air, touch, food, water, rest, sights, sounds, aromas and movement to likewise nurture the physical layer of your existence."

We can blend the best of technology with practices that date back 3,000 years. Actually, design that appeals to all our senses is seen in many cultures, especially Ayurveda, the system of medicine based on the Indian subcontinent. They combine the 5 senses and the 5 elements to heal many illnesses. It’s truly fascinating. And yet we’ve turned our back on much of this ancient wisdom, and toward convenience and distraction. My objective is to reinvigorate these old concepts in a home, while also utilizing the best our time has to offer.

And I’m not alone. Many studies prove that nature can provide the best self care. Roger S. Ulrich, Ph.D., EDAC coined the phrase “stress recovery theory.” Without proper rest, the amygdala sends a signal to the hypothalamus, which releases chemicals that cause high blood sugar. This fight-or-flight reaction might feel good in the moment, but if you don’t allow your body to rest, chronic stress leads to serious illness.

Fortunately, there’s a solution. Ulrich is now a professor of architecture at the Center for Healthcare Building Research at Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden. His colleagues pilot a healthcare program, which incorporates elements of WELL Building Standards and biophilic design. Their research shows that people exposed to natural light and open air feel better. Wounds actually heal faster in a calm environment. To promote this healing, they want to see 25% of each hospital’s property transformed into landscape grounds and rooftop gardens, and 1% of the interior floor plan covered with plants.

When I think of a home, I wonder, is there opportunity to create wellness here, too? I turn to our roots. We’ve developed as human beings in parallel with nature; maintaining that connection is vital. We have a biological need to connect with nature. Consider forest bathing in Japan and China: Is there any reason why we shouldn’t incorporate this in our homes?

It’s exciting to revisit these old ways. Biomimicry, in general, looks at how nature solves problems. There are so many interesting solutions on a biological level. For example, Lotusan is a self cleaning exterior paint. When water droplets hit, it will clean itself, just like the lotus leaf that remains clean in a dirty environment. The bumps and ridges on each leaf pick up dirt particles and wash them away when the surface is exposed to water.

With all these natural solutions at our fingertips, it amazes me that only about 10% of U.S. Patents relate with nature. The great outdoors has been around a lot longer than our built environment; it offers a huge resource library for us to utilize today.

Let’s look away from our screens, and out the window for solutions. In home design, I create this connection through layout, sun orientation and materials. A home with large openings and overhangs shades direct sunlight and provides reflected light. Most important, the home harmonizes with its people. I understand how each client operates through their home. Then I coordinate the design with their circadian rhythm. Light guides you. Your eyes should adapt to light in the morning, and gradually the sunlight can bathe the space. When you leave the house, you’re ready; when you return, the lighting allows you to wind down for bed.

I’ve noticed it’s difficult to wind down when accosted by blue lights (as in computer screens). That’s because they simulate the blue spectrum of daylight, which starts to get our minds going. We have it backwards -- we expose ourselves to blue spectrum light in the evening when we should be doing it in the morning. I find it easier to awaken before my family and start my day before everyone comes downstairs. That way, I’m prepared to assist my wife and our three boys. I watch a show, write while eating breakfast, or do some computer work and drink a glass of water. That’s my routine instead of coffee -- cool water and research.

At night, I read a book by the fire (no blue light). I love to light a fire and curl up in a nook with a view of the sun set, listening to the crackling of the logs and bathed in the warmth. The 5 Senses Design™ is a way of life. I experience better performance and greater clarity … and less stress.

I’ve spent a lot of time camping, and imagining our ancestors huddling around the fire. Before the Industrial Revolution, the fireplace used to be the heart of the home. Fire was used in many ways, for making ammunition, smelting lead, cooking, and, of course, heat. Then, the fireplace moved to the side of the house and the TV den has replaced that space. And that’s okay, times change. I still recommend watching TV in the morning, not at night, but it’s a difficult habit to break. If your TV is above the fireplace, try turning both on. Then evolve slowly; transition to only the fireplace and reading at night.

I design separate reading rooms and TV rooms to make the adjustment easier. A living room that opens to the patio is another way of welcoming in the natural world. It’s a balancing act of an indoor fireplace to outside fireplace with a pool. However you make the lifestyle change, you’ll inevitably enjoy more restful space and earlier morning invigoration.

That’s what self care is all about -- engaging in the present moment with all five senses. Consider, what excites you on vacation? Few will say watching a screen. The design, lighting and more promote healthier activities for my clients in the comfort of home.

There are several sources today that will suggest that electrical energy and WiFi signals can disrupt our sleep. Some have suggested that they turn off all of this energy or keep it out of their sleeping space, and have found the best sleep in years. Currently I don’t have a study to point to on this subject, but perhaps there is something to it. Yet “self care is health care” doesn’t always mean turning off the WiFi. But when you do transition, how can we make this easier and smoother? No one wants to be running around turning everything back on in the morning. When I design a home with this in mind, we can incorporate a charging station for devices downstairs and a switch that has all the tech on the same circuit, with an automatic schedule. Through biophilic design and 5 Senses Design™, your home encourages routines that will give you a good night’s sleep … and will change your life.

Castelvecchio Museum in Verona: How Materials Preserve History

I’d like to share with you one of my favorite buildings, a museum in Italy with a rich history. Its materials perfectly marry the old and new, and likewise inspire my designs.

I draw inspiration from Carlos Scarpa, the architect who restored Castelvecchio Museum in Verona, Italy. The museum showcases juxtaposition and timelessness -- where concrete meets masonry, where steel is present in contrast to the brick that was previously used. It is an excellent example of how materials preserve history, while marrying the old with the new.

This archetypal rectangular castle that surrounds a courtyard is a masterful display of attention to detail with respect to light and material. Past and present meet each other in architectural dialogue. A centuries-old equestrian statue is positioned along a modern concrete cantilever walkway. Set at an angle to the walkway, it’s independent, part of the whole and still lives in its own separate life. The building layers history -- allowing each moment its place.

In addition to its artworks, what the museum shows us is how buildings evolve in their use. First, it was used as a medieval castle; in the eighteenth century, it became Napoleon's barracks to house his troops. Then came a time when a residence connected to it … and now it’s a museum.

In the 1930s, the museum director’s team embarked on an archeological exploration to highlight the layers of history. Instead of inserting another element that doesn’t effectively fit in what somebody thinks a castle should look like, they blended the materials. They took on a real challenge -- renovating and improving upon a historic building can create conflict. The architect thinks, “Is it right to do this? Will my new work overshadow the old work?”

In Castelvecchio, the history is not overshadowed. The architecture clearly delineates the old from the new; the honesty is apparent, respected and discussed by those who pass through.

In addition to the juxtaposition of materials, the attention to lighting makes this building special. The courtyard is very introverted, peering into history, observing man-made sculptures and artifacts in particular light and shadow. Ultimately, it’s about the inhabitant -- the building adapts to its people. Today, sculptures and artifacts are placed with respect to how sunlight enters through loop holes and the roof. The sun is the museum’s tour guide.

And that’s beautiful. When I design a home, I think about how my clients wants to wake up. Our circadian rhythms are connected to the sunlight. In addition, sun orientation is a strong consideration of mine. When I design a home, the clients won’t wake up to a harsh sunlight or feel aggravated by it after work while reading a book in their bay window or doing the dishes. They’ll move along, in harmony, with the sun.

I implement a connection to the natural world with lighting, while using new and old materials. A timeless, well-designed building is like a black dress -- you can accessorize it in a variety of ways, you only have to put on a belt and necklace, and it stays in style. Castelvecchio’s use has changed over the years -- teaching us a valuable lesson. You don’t have to tear your whole house down and rebuild a trendy minimalist home. Together, we can accessorize the existing structure just for you.

Put it all together and make a project: The role of the architect

We like to involve the client as a team member and bring other project partners into the conversation. This tends to work and helps avoid the personality conflicts you hear of on other projects. In addition to the obvious design role, the role of the architect needs to be master communicator, coordinator, and able to leverage the other specialists. This generates better results for the client, provides more information, and reduces the burden of research. It’s based on our understanding that no one person can know for everyone else.

The result will always be a unique project.

For one residential project on the Jersey shore, the builder/developer wanted to do something unique and new. Innovation, he reasoned, would help them differentiate themselves. Someone else said, the clients wanted a low maintenance solution, so they can enjoy their time at the beach.

These were the ideas on the table. We were able to expand on them: A pitched roof could be designed to water the plants in a planter far below it, along the foundation of the house. We liked the notion of a rain chain and a concealed gutter. This innovation was both environmentally conscious and low maintenance. Nobody likes to clean out gutters, and the property will basically water itself. The side wall is intended to be painted with Lotusan paint, rooted in the knowledge that a lotus plants grow and stay clean and beautiful despite being in bogs or in a dirt and debris-filled environment. The surface of its petals has microscopic peaks, so close that molecules of dirt are too large to fall down into the valley, and dirt is washed away when it gets wet. Likewise, this paint was designed with the same properties, this saves on the need to power wash the house, as it will self-clean when it rains. Implementing these natural solutions blends well with the notion of crawling ivy, which will eventually make its way up that wall from the planter below.

At Slate, we bring a biophilic design or nature working with the built environment. This means a positive view both for those looking out (the residents) and those looking on (the community). Sometimes the needs of both need to be balanced. For this project, the clients desired privacy, yet allowing beach access was important. Knowing that not much light comes in from the north, we put few windows on that wall and planned for beach access along that side of the property, which would also be landscaped for privacy. The concept of the roof and the form of the home emanates from a hermit crab and the shade a palm tree provides to a person on a beach. Both provide protection, and shaded comfort; which was identical to the needs this home had. This form also worked well with the roof drains, so like a shell, the roof folds over the north side and cascades down the side. On the waterfront side, a daring cantilever juts out above maintaining the concept of a protective shell.

Tradespeople enjoy this process. We always recommend a page turn meeting where all main heads of the trades sit down together. Prior to that, they have an opportunity to lend input prior to construction documents being pulled together. They might say, “We’ve never worked with that product,” or “I can make this less expensive.” We’ll then have a discussion on intent, cost, and time and make an effective decision. Everybody is working on the same page instead of at odds or wanting to add creative input at the wrong time.

Otherwise, the process can easily go astray, with one party trying to convince the clients they’re the ones looking after them or the blame game (“the framer didn’t build straight walls”). When we pull everyone together, they meet each other, understand each other’s processes, and allow the general contractor to schedule and sequence the trades so that doesn’t happen.

The last thing I want is the client to arrive and see problems, blame being passed around or a stalled project. If we can empower people, much of this can be avoided … and the project flourishes.

Likewise, if the client says, “If it wasn’t for me asking this question, disaster would strike.” Even if many people raised this question, that’s good because it means the client is a major contributor to the process.

We want everybody pushing in one direction. The same is true with the interior designer. The ability to make this communication happen comes from the architect, who is able to manage the project, go around the table to make sure everyone contributes and is valued. The role of the architect is to make things happen collaboratively. Then, design and construction phases flow smoothly. We at Slate Architects, put it all together.

It Doesn’t Happen in a Vacuum

This last December, my sons and I completed the final push to earn black belts in karate. After years of training up through the ranks we went through a specific black belt preparation which comprised 6 months. We experienced challenges that would prepare us for the ultimate black belt test … when we would demonstrate 50 self-defense techniques on a partner, tired, and under scrutiny.

Our black belt test was six long hours in the midst of running laps, doing pushups, sit ups, jumping jacks and other calisthenics, to ensure we tested tired. Finishing the test - pass or fail - is no small feat, especially with minimal if any breaks for water or rest. We encouraged each other and we met the challenge head on.

Even when my 10-year-old son cut his foot on a jump rope, he wouldn’t stop. It was just a little cut. He pushed through and rose to the occasion.

Motivating my kids to reach our goal, and keeping myself energized, was hard. But we did it together. My older son and I earned our senior black belts; my middle son earned his junior black belt.

For me, a black belt signifies honesty, hard work, and being undaunted by challenges. All my life, I’ve been overcoming obstacles.

As a child I was told I had a learning disability, and couldn't learn; however, I learned how to learn. After being told I couldn’t, I went to college, and graduated. After being told it was impossible, I became a licensed practicing architect. Today I have my own firm. Was it hard? Sure. But I like solving problems and facing adversity.

It doesn't happen in a vacuum. Training with my sons was a big motivator; my professors and role models helped as I pursued my vocation. Collaboration is key. On what do you seek to collaborate? How can I help?

-- Michael J. Roosevelt

Fear and Progress

What early experiences have shaped your professional practice? Because we all have such experiences, I thought you'd enjoy reading about this one.

When I was a kid, I felt fearless on the water. I absolutely loved sailing, but I developed a fear on land … of rattlesnakes. It seemed like a pretty normal fear to me at 6 years old. This developed when my little sister and I were wandering through a grassy field in Wyoming at this young age, we stumbled across a rattlesnake. That unnerving sound gave it away. We couldn’t see it; we could only hear it. That amplified our fear. While I was panicking, I realized that I was wearing boots and she was wearing sandals. My protective instinct kicked in ... so I picked her up. Something hit my boot three times around the shin, but I didn’t feel anything on my skin. My conclusion was that the snake bit my boot three times. We stayed there crying, motionless and terrified. I was frozen, and didn’t know what to do. I didn’t think I could carry her out of the field, but I also knew I couldn’t put her down. Thankfully, a ranch hand escorted us out of the field unharmed.

I lived with my fear until college when I bought a baby king snake - this reptile began as 8 inches long and eats rattlesnakes (and other king snakes). At one point, I owned six snakes!

Here’s what I learned - understanding what we’re really afraid of helps resolve immobility. It’s irrational to think that all rattlesnakes are bad. Think about it: it’s hanging out in a field, maybe feeding and protecting its young. All of a sudden, two giants are standing there. I didn’t like being afraid of things. It’s fine to be concerned or afraid, but not when it starts interfering with your life.

Last year my sons and I visited a reptile show, they also grew interested in reptiles. This year My 10-year-old son owns a king snake. It’s equally as docile as the one I had in college. My 14-year-old son is interested in lizards and turtles, and my 7-yearold son has two leopard geckos.

We have a small pond in the backyard, which attracts frogs in the spring. A few years ago, I noticed my middle son stalking them like a cat stalking its prey. He has developed a keen eye for them and catches them successfully to this day; then releases them unharmed. I encourage my kids to understand the world around them and have a respect for nature, but not necessarily fear it. This mindset enables them to problem solve and play creatively.

Reflecting on these pastimes inspires my professional life too. A client may have a project with challenges that they don’t have an answer for, and nobody has come up with a solution for - that’s exactly when you should hire an architect.

Michael J. Roosevelt

How Architecture Impacts Us

enter image description hereA mystical element adds to the power of architecture. Architects strive to put their finger on it. Our perception of space is often on a conscious, even primal level. Because I see the world through 5 Senses Design, I consider how a space looks, feels, sounds, smells and tastes. I think we easily feel the volume of the space, but there’s so much more. Ultimately, 5 Senses Design enhances meaningful experiences.

When I walk into a grand spiritual space, its high volume takes my breath away. The cathedrals I visited in England resonate with my focus on the senses and nature. Their thick walls contrasted with colored stained-glass windows, which filtered the light beautifully. “Oh, my gosh, I’ve never seen this before,” I thought, and I expect others throughout history arrived at similar impressions.

While England’s ancient cathedrals fascinate me, my family’s church comes to mind. We attended Christ Church in Oyster Bay, New York. I could smell, feel, and to some degree taste the massive masonry walls and the slate floor. I caught a whiff of its age. The rich-stained oak pews felt smooth, almost soft with age. The Procession would burn candles and incense during the service for the congregation. As a child, I’d spend a lot of time staring at the trusses and out the stained-glass windows. The acoustics played a major role in this spiritual experience. I was struck by how well I could hear the choir; yet I barely noticed someone jostling a paper nearby. The building’s design allowed the music to soar, and the “small” sounds to filter into the background. Though I hadn’t coined the term yet, I realized at a young age that 5 Senses Design enhances meaningful experiences.

Some people are captured by an outdoor stadium in a similar way. Engulfed by the natural light's warmth and the smell of popcorn, they may not even be aware of the physical structure that forms the basis of the experience. Yet a space doesn’t have to be big to be interesting. A small, well-designed room possesses the same power. Biophilically speaking, a space feels different when a large glazed window reveals the exterior and diffuses the light. Rather than drop a shade on that window, one enjoys the light reflecting in, letting the outdoors in and the indoors out. When you experience a pleasing interaction in a certain place and with certain people, you’re also experiencing the impact of architecture.

For me, I feel the most connected in nature. At the bottom of the Grand Canyon, I found it similar to an illuminated cave, its walls reminiscent of a room and the clouds overhead like a cotton ceiling. Likewise, wooded trails feel like passages, as the canopy of trees forms an arched tunnel. Even roads up and down the east coast create spiritual spaces rife with connection.

Our design approach looks to bring some of the outside to the interior of the home, and it has a positive impact on the sense of well-being. The moment you open your front door and step out, you may feel just as connected to nature. “Wow, it’s such a beautiful day, a beautiful world.”

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if you could have that same level of appreciation inside your home? I try to bring some of that understanding inside. What would that add to a work environment, or a home, or a dinner party? Creating an outdoor living space that feels like you are inside, or an inside living space that feels like you are outside bridges that gap and reduces the container to a transparent level. The 5 Senses Design approach enhances meaningful experiences through architecture. Any place you can be at peace with your thoughts and inspired by your surroundings can be a sanctuary. Whether it’s a church or stadium, a mountain peak or your own home, it is particular the resonance with all 5 Senses that brings it about. I welcome that feeling in my home design. Let’s make your home your sanctuary.

Michael J. Roosevelt