Architects have long understood the need to introduce variations in scale, texture, and porosity to buildings to stimulate the senses. Now, research shows that a lack of such variation, i.e., boring architecture, can actually diminish cognitive engagement.

Looking specifically at two test sites in Lower Manhattan—one a lively block filled with open-air restaurants, the other dominated by the generic façade of a Whole Foods Market—Colin Ellard, a neuroscientist who directs the Urban Realities Laboratory at the University of Waterloo, studied the effects of architecture on excitement. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Ellard's results showed more favorable reactions to the lively block than to the visually bland one.

Jacoba Urist writes in New York Magazine's Science of Us column: "Boring architecture may take an emotional toll on the people forced to live in and around it ... There might even be a potential link between mind-numbing places and attention deficit hyperactivity disorders."

Read Urist's full story at New York Magazine.

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