What Makes A Place Great?

As we reflect on 21 years of Design with People in Mind®, we asked each of our principals to respond to one of our foundational questions…. “What makes a place great?” Here’s what they had to say…


“Great spaces evoke a feeling; whether comfort, awe, belonging, beauty, or spirituality, that leaves a lasting image that you never forget. In my experience that can come from anywhere. From the fort tents built by my kids to grand train station concourses and great urban rooms like Bryant Park.”

Sean Beasley, AIA, LEED AP

“A place is great when you can see and be seen.
A place is great when you can hear, smell and feel nature.
A place is great when you can interact with other people.
A place is great when you feel the most content and happy.”

Alan Jesse Cuteri, AIA, LEED AP BD+C

In a word, “engagement.” Great places engage each of our senses. They are settings that we engage, and settings in which we engage each other. Great places are the scenes or stages where things happen, and are frameworks we use to make sense of the world around us.”

Christopher Kenney, AIA, LEED AP, CSI

“When the setting and the ambiance are both comforting and exciting at the same time leaving a lasting and positive impression.”

John A. Martine, AIA

“Whether it is awe, excitement, joy, or comfort, great places evoke positive emotions. These spaces can either be the backdrop to memories or the star, but they help shape the experience / memory.”

Abby Mountain, AIA, AICP, LEED AP

“A great place is somewhere you genuinely enjoy spending time; one that makes you want to linger just a little bit longer. It doesn’t have to be grand, or curated. It just has to feel right.”

George Poulin, AIA, LEED AP

“When the memory of a place and its unique experience is beautifully etched in your mind.”

Tom Price, AIA

“The right balance of color, daylight, texture, smells and sound, that make you happy, content, comfortable and left with a desire to pause and enjoy.”

Dina F. Snider, AIA, LEED AP BD+C


We look forward to creating more extraordinary places for people to enjoy for generations to come.