From gender-inclusive spaces to eco-friendly roofs, newly built spaces for public engagement are building modern social concepts into their infrastructure for more thoughtful and intentional environments.

A new terminal at the Kansas City airport features sensory rooms, gender neutral bathrooms, and more inclusive installations built into its infrastructure. The terminal opened on February 28, and greets travelers with a breadth of offerings that cater to travelers of all walks of life. The Kansas City Aviation Department collaborated with local organizations including The Whole Person, Variety KC, Dementia Friendly KC and others to ensure every checkpoint was ADA - compliant in reference to the Americans with Disabilities Act Standard for Accessible Design, making the airport as inclusive and accessible as possible. Nursing rooms, sensory rooms and flight simulators to soothe or prepare neurodivergent travelers, and inclusive play areas for children are just a few more examples of how the airport is catering to a breadth of travelers in what can traditionally be a stressful setting.

A wide open atrium with a silver, boxy chandelier. People are sitting in chairs and on steps with books scattered throughout, looking through a fully glass, see-through front wall beyond which a lake and full treeline can be seen.
Devisual for Heatherwick Studio

A luxe, new-age library in Maryland will offer extended community space and connection, with classes from IT to cooking, elevated architecture, more. The design, revealed in March, was created in collaboration with Heatherwick Studio, a public library in Columbia, Maryland is a five-story, plant-covered building with an amphitheater, a main library, workspaces, a teaching kitchen, a café, a walkable rooftop, and glorious views of Lake Kittamaqundi.

"Columbia has always been driven by a socially radical vision," Heatherwick Studio partner Stuart Wood said in a statement. "This legacy inspired us to evolve the traditional library beyond books and into a new type of community center for broader learning and social exchange."

In Jinshanling, just north of Beijing, China, the Chapel of Sound is a picture of sculptural splendor and functional sustainability. What looks like a carved-out boulder rests between green, grassy mountains and the ruins of the Ming Dynasty-era Great Wall of China. It is built to help guests “see the shape of sound” according to the architects involved in the project, which was awarded the 2023 Best Public Building of *Wallpaper Design Awards. The building uses no heat or air conditioning, and is built narrowly at the bottom and carved throughout to both reduce its impact on the land around it and enhance the sound and music played within it.

The Intelligence take

These public spaces for travel, connection and entertainment are building inclusivity and thoughtful function into their very foundations. Growing brands and establishments should consider incorporating themes and functions of sustainability and inclusivity from the get-go, as these spaces have, to ensure a smooth future for all guests, consumers, and participants.

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