Views of the Outdoors

The Lewis and Clark State office building in Jefferson City, Missouri, designed by BNIM Architects, is a LEED Platinum-certified building with abundant views ofthe outdoors.

clear glazing, so anyone can see through them to the outdoors, or to locate corridors along the building perimeter, so everyone can see outside.

When I learned of this requirement in the LEED system, I pondered its importance. But if you think for a moment, human beings have evolved for more than two million years in intimate connection with the outdoors, moving indoors only to eat or sleep. Our entire sensory apparatus, our entire psychology is based on connection with nature; we don't need scientific research to tell us this, it's so obvious. Only in the last 150 years have we begun to spend so much of the daylight hours indoors. Even 100 years ago, 95% of the US population was engaged mostly in agriculture, moving indoors and outdoors frequently.

For most people modern life doesn't allow the luxury of being outdoors much of the day. Have you ever spent an entire day in a windowless conference hall and felt more than a little crazy from lack of connection to daylight and the weather outdoors? We should adopt the more sensible European codes stipulating that no worker can be more than 10 meters (33 feet) from a window, to allow for natural daylighting to penetrate (and for people to see outside). Also, typical cubicle heights need to be reduced to 42 inches or less so that everyone can have a view without getting up from their desks.

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