History and ANFA

The Founding of Academy of Neuroscience for Architecture (ANFA)

In 2003, Norman L. Koonce, then-executive vice president and chief executive officer of the AIA, had spoken to researchers at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, the nonprofit scientific research institute founded by Jonas Salk, developer of the polio vaccine, in La Jolla, Calif. Koonce learned about the power of architecture on the mind and that the environment enriches the brain, and he realized that San Diego was a nexus of ideas between neuroscience and architecture.

That realization led to the granting of the 2003 Latrobe Fellowship, a biennial award by the AIA of $100,000, to support the founding of the first offices of the Academy of Neuroscience for Architecture (ANFA) at NewSchool under the oversight of Gilbert Cooke, then dean and president of the school. The first course on neuroscience and architecture at NewSchool was taught by John Eberhard of the AIA, the founding president of ANFA. He was assisted by Dr. Eve Edelstein, whose unique background—she has a Ph.D. in Neuroscience and an M.Arch. from NewSchool—allowed her to help develop advanced courses on exploring ways that neuroscientific concepts might be applied to design. From the ANFA offices in NewSchool, they launched professional workshops and educational programs, and ANFA began to take shape.

NewSchool faculty continue to contribute as key participants in the academy, which supports studies, workshops, and university-based educational programs designed to explore research that integrates neuroscience and architecture. The academy is the first—in fact, at the moment, the only—such institution in the world to link neuroscience, one of the newest frontiers of knowledge, with architecture, one of the oldest disciplines of human civilization.

Photo by Claudia Ambriz