• Welcome to Your World: How the Built Environment Shapes Our Lives
    Sarah Williams Goldhagen
    HarperCollins Publishers, 2017
    Sarah Williams Goldhagen

SANAA, Glass Pavilion, Toledo Art Museum, 2006, Toledo, Ohio. Photo: Iwan Baan.

Through insightful, readable analyses of buildings, landscapes, and cityscapes, from antiquity to the present, Welcome to Your World draws from recent research in many fields—embodied cognition and cognitive neuroscience, in particular—to offer a new, full-bodied framework for understanding how people actually experience the built world. By 2050 America’s population is projected to increase by nearly seventy million people. This will necessitate a vast amount of new construction—almost all in urban areas—that will dramatically transform our existing landscapes, infrastructure, and urban areas. Going forward, we must do everything we can to prevent the construction of exhausting, overstimulating environments and enervating, understimulating ones. Buildings, landscapes, and cities must both contain and spark associations of natural light, greenery, and other ways of being in landscapes that humans have evolved to need and expect. Fancy exteriors and dramatic forms are never enough, and may not even be necessary; authentic textures and surfaces, and careful, well-executed construction details are just as important. Erudite, wise, lucidly written, and beautifully illustrated with more than one-hundred color photographs, Welcome to Your World is a vital, eye-opening guide to the spaces we inhabit, physically and mentally, and a clarion call to design for human experience.

Sarah Williams Goldhagen, a contributing editor at Architectural Record and was, until recently, architecture critic for the New Republic. Before devoting herself full-time to writing, Goldhagen taught for ten years at Harvard University's Graduate School of Design; she has also taught at UT Austin, Vassar, and Wellesley. She holds a PhD in art and architectural history and theory from Columbia University.