A New Look at Humanism





This book is about enlarging the ways designers think about design...

and to do that by learning more from the defining enterprise of the Modern revolution – the fastmoving advance of reliable sciences – and then applying their insights in practice.

The scientific work that underlies new construction technologies – structures, materials, systems and software – has already revolutionized how we build today. But the insights emerging from the maturing sciences of human life – evolution, ecology, and the neurosciences – the ones that explore how you or I actually experience the places being built for us, are only beginning to be incorporated into design education and practice.

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Robert Lamb Hart is a practicing architect, currently Chairman Emeritus of Hart Howerton, a planning, architecture, landscape, and interior design firm with a global practice, headquartered in New York and San Francisco. He was educated in architecture at the Harvard Graduate School of Design under Walter Gropius and in city planning at the University of Pennsylvania in the Louis Kahn and Ian McHarg years.

“After starting to practice, and watching styles come and go, I realized that our education, focused on buildings and the ideologies of celebrity architects, had taught us little about our audience—the people who were counting on us to design the places and the ecosystems where they would spend most of their lives. I set out to fill that gap.”


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A fascinating look inside the relationships between nature, human nature, architecture, and landscapes is at the heart of Bob Hart’s exploration of what a truly humane built environment would be like. His insistence on merging historic context, scientific exploration, and cultural constructs provide the tools for making our place on Earth.

Susan S. Szenasy

Publisher and Editor in Chief




It does not serve architecture well to have important assumptions about human nature…just sloshing around half-formed in the backrooms of an architect-planner’s mind. We need to thank Bob for bringing into the open quite brilliantly all of the main themes that have shaped architectural thinking on this matter, refreshed with wide and recent readings…And these are not just vague intimations or personal prejudices.

A New Look at Humanism represents for me the moment architecture becomes fully conscious of the most important elements within its discourse. This makes the book a very exciting one for various audiences, but especially educators working in design and prospective students considering making a career here. 

Moreover it is elegantly written, and the erudition is borne lightly, which is rare indeed for a book on architectural theory.

Dr. Simon Richards

Architectural Educator and author of "Architect Knows Best"

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The Charles Moore Foundation and I have been very important to each other other for nearly a decade (since I was an undergraduate at UT Austin).  I have collaborated with the foundation director, Kevin Keim, on several design build projects there, and he and I are now partnering on projects for new clients as well.  Charles has posthumously been an important teacher to me, and his books are my starting point for approaching life and design.  "Body, Memory, and Architecture" is my favorite Architecture book and I was delighted to see it listed first in your bibliography.  I think that Charles would love the direction you are taking with this work. 

As I consider my options and desires for Graduate studies, I naturally gravitate toward subjects growing from Charles' humanist influence on me.   I'm only a few pages in and I already have a greater sense of focus for my future work.  Receiving this book is a turning point in my career.  I think it's fair to say that it will get a sterling review on my podcast, "The Architecture Show".  

Adam Word Gates


Author Robert Lamb Hart does what should have been done so long ago, and that is present the human studies in psychology, ecology, and biology as a means by which architects, landscape architects, and urban planners….design space.

A new wave is coming of students who are interested in bridging the gap between the people they design for and the buildings they design. With this peaking interest in people-integrated design, it is vital that A New Look at Humanism….finds it’s way into collegiate level discussions.

Bethanie Martin

Ball State University



This book is a rare find…beautifully written, each page composed of insightful sidebar comments enhancing the body of the text and charming hand-drawn illustrations. Hart is a scholar and synthesizer of knowledge [about] ‘some deeper order of things’ [in the human mind and body] and brings his own often poetic analysis to bear, reminding us that ‘Experiencing the places we build is as integral to our lives as encounters with people.

Steven Lazarus




Whether Hart has produced a manifesto on the order of Giedion’s Space, Time, and Architecture or Corbusier’s Toward a New Architecture will be for current and future practitioners to determine. But he certainly offers a perspective…that is in danger of being lost. There is much food for thought here.

George Calys

Architectural Critic, San Francisco



The book discusses how rapid advances in biology and neuroscience are just beginning to be incorporated into design education and practice, and seeks to enlarge the ways designers apply scientific insights. Why is this discussion so late in coming…how ludicrous that architects are still falling short, relative to our peers in the marketing and entertainment industries, in utilizing the fundamental principles of human nature to achieve our goals.

Monica C. Green

Architectural Student



This book is both ambitious and timely. Passionately written and tempered by years of practice, it stands nearly alone in what should be a larger, continuous field of discussion and reevaluation of design principles in light of today’s rapid transformations in technology, science and world culture. We can only hope that Hart’s extensive contribution will challenge the rest of us to action.  

JM Cava


Read the full story by JM Cava here


The American Institute of Architects selected for its 2016 National Convention a panel presentation, "Neuroscience, Evolution, Ecology: A New Look at Humanism in Architecture," where it drew one of the largest audiences.

American Institute of Architects

2016 National Convention