Biophilic Design: The Architecture of Life

Biophilic Design is an innovative way of designing the places where we live, work, and learn. We need nature in a deep and fundamental fashion, but we have often designed our cities and suburbs in ways that both degrade the environment and alienate us from nature. The recent trend in green architecture has decreased the environmental impact of the built environment, but it has accomplished little in the way of reconnecting us to the natural world, the missing piece in the puzzle of sustainable development. Come on a journey from our evolutionary past and the origins of architecture to the world’s most celebrated buildings in a search for the architecture of life. Together, we will encounter buildings that connect people and nature - hospitals where patients heal faster, schools where children’s test scores are higher, offices where workers are more productive, and communities where people know more of their neighbors and families thrive. Biophilic Design points the way toward creating healthy and productive habitats for modern humans.

Viewing guide and press kit



Executive Producer:

Stephen Kellert

Producer, Camera, Editor:

Bill Finnegan

Written by:

Stephen Kellert and Bill Finnegan

Additional Camera:

Taylor Gentry
Charles Divak
Hilary Byrne
Daniel Shearer

Audio Recordists:

Jaime Garamella
Daniel Shearer
James Broadhurst
Bill Finnegan


Stephen Kellert and Florence Miller


Miriam Heard

Original Music Composed, Performed and Recorded by:

Peter Land and Jaime Garamella

Prelude Op. 28, No. 15 in D-flat major (the Raindrop Prelude)

Composed by Frédéric François Chopin
Performed by Emily Copeland
Recorded by Peter Land

Footage and Photographs Provided by:

Aldo Leopold Foundation
American Planning Association
Cook+Fox (Video by Ryan Browne)
Islandwood (Photo by Kelli Breeton-Fairall)
Library of Congress
Michigan Public Television
National Archives and Records Administration
Throughline Productions
Wikimedia Commons
Woodland Park Zoo (Photo by Karen Anderson)
Yale University

Thanks to: 

Aldo Leopold Foundation
California Academy of Sciences
Cathedral of St. John the Divine
Center for Maximum Potential Building Systems
Cook+Fox Architects
David Mellor Design
Dell Children's Hospital, Seaton Family of Hospitals
Doernbecher Children's Hospital, OHSU
Embassy of Finland, Washington
Google - YouTube
Herman Miller
High Point, Seattle Housing Authority
Hopkins Architects
Kent Bloomer Studio
King Middle School - Edible Schoolyard
Lake-Flato Architects
Metro-North Railroad
Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority
Next Phase Studios
NRG Systems
Oberlin College
Oxford Museum of Natural History
Sahlgrenska Hospital
Sellers & Company
Shangri La Botanical Gardens & Nature Center
Sidwell Friends Middle School
Tule Elk Park Early Education School
Viaduc des Arts - Promenade plantée
Village Homes
Western Pennsylvania Conservancy
White Arkitekter
William McDonough + Partners
Yestermorrow Design/Build School


Christopher Andrews
Tim Beatley
Alan Bell
Patrick Berger
Kent Bloomer
Lennart Bogren
Bill Browning
Carrington Conerly
Richard Cook
Judy Corbett
Pliny Fisk III
Ted Flato
Bob Fox
Jan Freitas-Nichols
Howard Frumkin
Trevor Garnham
Anna Grady
Ann Greenamyre
Bert Gregory
Marsha Guerrero
Beth Hadi
Bob Harris
Judith Heerwagen
Grant Hildebrand
Michael Hoke
Buddy Huffaker
Marleen Kaptein
Greg Kats
DeAnna Lawson
Richard Louv
Stefen Lundin
Clare Cooper Marcus
Rick Mattila
Bill McDonough
Jason McLennan
Corin Mellor
Jennifer Mitchell
Nina Moiseiwitsch
Paul Murray
Ed Nagelkirk
Michael Nichols
Stacy Nicholson
David Orr
Margaret Pennock
Tom Phillips
Martha Platt
Anthony Ravitz
Karen Salsbury
David Sellers
Diana Sevelin
James Gustave Speth
Kate Stephenson
Matt Sullivan
Anthony Sutcliffe
Mike Taylor
Toni Torres
Roger Ulrich
Gail Vittori
Martin Werminghausen
Carolyn West
Edward O. Wilson

Additional Thanks to:

Kyle Bergman
Phil Bernstein
Dave Case
Cheryl Charles
Ian Cheney
Tori Derr
Michael Gilligan
David Grant
Cathy McConnell
Barbara Moran
Catherine Palmer
Ann Prum
Barry Svigals

Support from:

The Henry Luce Foundation
School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, Yale University
Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation 

© 2011 Tamarack Media and Stephen Kellert


Aldo Leopold Foundation

Location: Baraboo, Wisconsin
Architect: Kubala Washatko Architects
Completed: 2007
Voices: Buddy Huffaker, Executive Director, Aldo Leopold Foundation

Bank of America Tower

Location: New York, New York
Architect: Cook+Fox
Completed: 2009
Voices: Bob Fox, Partner, Cook+Fox; Richard Cook, Partner, Cook+Fox

California Academy of Sciences

Location: San Francisco, California
Architect: Renzo Piano
Completed: 2008
Voices: Christopher Andrews, COO, California Academy of Sciences

Cook+Fox Architects, Office

Location: New York, New York
Architect: Cook+Fox
Completed: 2006
Voices: Richard Cook, Partner, Cook+Fox

David Mellor Design, Cutlery Factory

Location: Sheffield, England
Architect: Hopkins Architects
Completed: 1989
Voices: Corin Mellor, Creative Director, David Mellor Design

Dell Children's Hospital, Seaton Family of Hospitals

Location: Austin, Texas
Architect: Karlsberger, CMPBS (Sustainability Consultant)
Completed: 2007
Voices: Gail Vittori and Pliny Fisk III, CMPBS; Beth Hadi, Pediatric ICU Nurse, Dell Children’s; Alan Bell, Director Design/Construction, Seaton Family of Hospitals; Toni Torres, Patient’s Mother

Doernbecher Children's Hospital, Oregon Health & Science University

Location: Portland, Oregon
Architect: Zimmer, Gunsul, Frasca Architects
Completed: 1998
Voices: Jan Frietas-Nichol, Director of Children’s Services, Doernbecher; Stacey Nicholson, Physician in Chief, Doerbecher; DeAnna Lawson, Patient’s Mother

Embassy of Finland

Location: Washington, District of Columbia
Architect: Mikko Heikkinen and Markku Komonen
Completed: 1994
Voices: Edward O. Wilson, Harvard University

EVA Lanxmeer

Location: Culemborg, Holland
Architect/Planner: Marleen Kaptein
Completed: 1994
Voices: Marleen Kaptein


Location: Mill Run, Pennsylvania
Architect: Frank Lloyd Wright
Completed: 1935
Voices: Frank Lloyd Wright (archival recording); Grant Hildebrand, Author: Origins of Architecture Pleasure

Genzyme Center

Location: Cambridge, Massachusetts
Architect: Behnisch, Behnisch & Partner; Next Phase Studios
Completed: 2003
Voices: Martin Werminghausen, Principal, Next Phase Studios; Rick Mattila, Director of Environmental Affairs, Genzyme

Grand Central Terminal

Location: New York, New York
Architect: Reed & Stern, Warren & Wetmore
Completed: 1913
Voices: Stephen Kellert, Author: Biophilic Design

Google, YouTube Headquarters

Location: San Bruno, California
Architect: William McDonough + Partners
Completed: 1997
Voices: Anthony Ravitz, Project Engineer Workplace Services, Google

Herman Miller, Greenhouse

Location: Holland, Michigan
Architect: William McDonough + Partners
Completed: 1995
Voices: Paul Murray, Director of Environmental Health and Safety, Herman Miller; Ed Nagelkirk, Senior Manager Workplace Solutions, Herman Miller; William McDonough

High Point, Seattle Housing Authority

Location: Seattle, Washington
Architect: Mithun
Completed: 2006
Voices: Matt Sullivan, Mithun; Tom Phillips, Seattle Housing Authority


Location: Bainbridge Island, Washington
Architect: Mithun
Completed: 2002
Voices: Bert Gregory, CEO, Mithun; Karen Salsbury, Educator, Islandwood

Johnson Wax Building, Great Workroom

Location: Racine, Wisconsin
Architect: Frank Lloyd Wright
Completed: 1936
Voices: Bill Browning, Founding Partner, Terrapin Bright Green

King Middle School, Edible Schoolyard

Location: Berkeley, California
Voices: Claire Cooper Marcus, University of California Berkeley; Marsha Guerero, Director, Edible Schoolyard

NRG Systems

Location: Hinesburg, Vermont
Architect: William Maclay Architects & Planners
Completed: 2004
Voices: Anna Grady, Human Resources, NRG; Carolyn West, Engineer, NRG; Ann Greenamyre, Controller, NRG

Oberlin College, Adam Joseph Lewis Center

Location: Oberlin, Ohio
Architect: William McDonough + Partners
Completed: 1998
Voices: David Orr, Professor, Oberlin; William McDonough

Oxford Museum of Natural History

Location: Oxford, England
Architect: Deane & Woodward
Completed: 1860
Voices: Trevor Garnham, Author: Environments of Architecture; Kent Bloomer, Author: Nature of Ornament

Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport

Location: Washington, District of Columbia
Architect: César Pelli; Kent Bloomer Studio (foliated trellis)
Completed: 1997
Voices: Kent Bloomer, Author: Nature of Ornament

Sahlgrenska Hospital, Psychiatric Department

Location: Gothenburg, Sweden
Architect: White Arkitekter
Completed: 2007
Voices: Roger Ulrich, Texas A&M; Stefen Lundin, White Arkitekter; Lennart Bogren and Diana Sevelin, Sahlgrenska Psychiatric Department

Shangri La Botanical Gardens & Nature Center

Location: Orange, Texas
Architect: Lake-Flato
Completed: 2008
Voices: Ted Flato, Founding Director, Lake-Flato; Michael Hoke, Director, Shangri La Botanical Gardens

Sidwell Friends Middle School

Location: Washington, District of Columbia
Architect: Kieran-Timberlake
Completed: 2006
Voices: Jennifer Mitchell, Assistant Principal, Sidwell; Margaret Pennock, Teacher, Sidwell; Carrington Conerly, Student, Sidwell; Nina Moiseiwitsch, Student, Sidwell

Viaduc des Arts - Promenade plantée

Location: Paris France
Architect: Patrick Berger, Janine Galiano, Jaques Vergely, and Philippe Mathiex
Completed: 1993
Voices: Patrick Berger

Village Homes

Location: Davis, California
Architect/Planner: Mike and Judy Corbett
Completed: 1975
Voices: Judy Corbett, Martha Platt, and Mike Nichols, Residents, Village Homes

Warren Residence

Location: Warren, Vermont
Architect: Sellers & Company
Voices: David Sellers, Founder, Sellers & Company

Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, Kroon Hall

Location: New Haven, Connecticut
Architect: Hopkins Architects
Completed: 2009
Voices: James G. Speth, Former Dean, Yale F&ES; Stephen Kellert, Author: Biophilic Design; Mike Taylor, Senior Partner, Hopkins Architects

Yestermorrow Design/Build School

Location: Warren, Vermont
Voices: Kate Stephenson, Executive Director, Yestermorrow

Additional Locations


GreenBuild Film Festival

October 5, 2011
GreenBuild, Toronto, Canada

Architecture and Design Film Festival

October 22 and 23, 2011
Tribecca Cinemas, New York, NY

Environmental Film Festival in the Nation's Capital

March 22, 2012
George Washington University, Washington, DC

Architecture and Design Film Festival

April 14 and 15, 2012
Music Box Theater, Chicago, IL

One Earth Film Festival 

April 28, 2012
River Forest Library, River Forest, IL

ECOScene Eco Film Arts Festival 

April 28, 2012
The Staircase, Hamilton, Canada

Environmental Film Festival Melbourne

September 7, 2012
Kino Cinema, Melbourne, Australia

Seattle Design Festival

September 22, 2012
SIFF Cinema at the Film Center, Seattle, WA

Kuala Lumpur Eco Film Fest

September 25, 2012
Green Drinks KL, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Miami Environmental Film Festival

October 27, 2012
Miami Beach Cinematheque, Miami, FL

American Conservation Film Festival

November 3, 2012
NCTC, Shepherdstown, WV 

DR Environmental Film Festival

November 6-7, 2012
FUNGLODE Auditorium, Santo Domingo and
Biblioteca Nazario Rize-Badia Llabaly
San Francisco de Macorís, Dominican Republic

Urban Issues Film Festival

November 9, 2012
Vancouver Island University, Nanaimo, Canada

Sustainable Living Film Festival

December 1, 2012
Salt Galata, Istanbul, Turkey

Projecting Change Film Festival

April 25, 2013
Goldcorp Centre for the Arts, Vancouver, BC, Canada

Resene Architecture and Design Film Festival

May 11 - June 8, 2013
Auckland, Wellington and Dunedin, New Zealand

Transitions Film Festival

November 9, 2013
Mercury Cinema, Adelaide, Australia