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Tom Albright named president of Academy of Neuroscience for Architecture

Academy melds architecture and neuroscience in conceptualizing brain-based buildings
Tom Albright

Thomas D. Albright

Thomas D. Albright, professor and director of the Salk's Vision Center Laboratory, is the newly appointed president of the Academy of Neuroscience for Architecture (ANFA). His term began in January 2013.

ANFA grew out of a 2003 American Institute of Architects (AIA) conference. In September 2012, the organization hosted more than 150 scientists and architects at its first annual conference held at Salk, where it announced its new grants program. The awards are intended to encourage both architects and neuroscientists to explore ways to incorporate the latest ideas in brain research into building design; cross-disciplinary teams may receive up to $50,000.

"Good architects have lots of intuitions, and that's why good architecture works," says Albright. "Our hope is that we can identify principles backing up those intuitions that are more deeply rooted in knowledge about how the brain works. We'd like to be able to identify, for example, what particular elements would give you a better space for learning."

While there is a great deal that still needs to be studied and tested to develop an "evidence-based architecture," what ANFA ultimately hopes to do, says Albright, is create a certification that will ensure that a building's architecture has followed brain-based principles of design, in the same way that LEEDcertified buildings conform to the best environmentally based practices.

"There are things that architects can do that can tap into the natural organization of the brain," Albright says. "As a neuroscientist, I welcome the opportunity to share these ideas with other professionals."