Daily Prompt: My Life, the Book

From a famous writer or celebrity, to a WordPress.com blogger or someone close to you — who would you like to be your biographer?

For many of us, the idea of leaving a legacy after the sun has set on our life is a big one. For architects, that drive to leave a lasting legacy is even stronger, I believe. In college we study ancient architecture, and by extension we also study the architects who envisioned those buildings. We can trace the first architect back to the time of ancient Egyptians, Imhotep (no, not the guy from The Mummy) and all the way to present day starchitects like Calatrava, Kundig, Meier, etc. All through history we can read and even see the fruits of a legacy left by countless architects who have shaped the way we live and the way we build. These are large shoes to try and fill in order to leave our own mark, our own legacy.

But, this is exactly what I hope will be my biographer – my buildings. With all of my projects and all of my clients there are a few things that I strive to accomplish every single time. First, that the clients needs are met both in immediate and future function of the building. This to me is paramount to a successful project. Second, I strive to call attention to the details of a building – the structure, color, materials, the nuts and bolts, the guts. A building should speak about it’s construction and perhaps even the reason behind how it came to be. Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, I strive to design and construct buildings that will last, that respond to their immediate surroundings and will be adaptable to changes in the future.

If I can accomplish these three things on each of my projects, then I know my legacy is secure, my buildings will speak for me. Can any of us ask for more?

Daily Prompt: architecture of the now

Do you belong in this day and age? Do you feel comfortable being a citizen of the 21st-century? If you do, explain why — and if you don’t, when in human history would you rather be?

The Golden Ratio

The Golden Ratio

Architecture began thousands of years ago with the earliest humans using large tree branches to create the first post and beam structures. These simple, temporary shelters developed into more permanent, but mobile, structures like Tee-pees and tents made of long wooden rods and animal skins sewn together. We call this Pre-historic Architecture.

Eventually our ancestors developed more permanent forms of building made out of a multitude of readily available local materials like mud brick, stone, wood, palm leaves and even concrete. We call this Ancient Architecture.

As the centuries progressed, Architecture and Construction became more refined, more functional, and even more beautiful. In each new era of building we have a certain style (this is a dirty word to some, but not to me), or a certain set of principles that identifies a particular age and way of life for that time and place. And in times past, place had a much more important role to play in the architecture through material, construction and even function.

Now, fast forward through the Industrial age, the invention of the elevator, central HVAC, the automobile, the airplane, the microwave and the iPhone – Architecture, in my opinion, has devolved. We’ve lost, through technology, the basics that make architecture great. Our technology has made it possible to design anything, anywhere, at any time. We are no longer bound by the basic principles of place, of climate or of time. This is leading to the death of real Architecture. The idea of sustainability, what used to be a default in all buildings, has now become something extra. In many cases something MUCH extra indeed. We don’t design buildings to perform and respond with their site and climate. We design them AGAINST their site and climate in a constant battle for supremacy. And how’s that working out for you?

For 21st Century Architecture to succeed, we need to return to basic Architectural Principles: Site, Context, Climate (Macro and Micro), Materials (local), Construction (durability and longevity), and Proportion (beauty). No matter what architectural style you favor, a well designed building that takes the items listed above into careful consideration is successful and will be enjoyed and appreciated by anyone. Like good music, good architecture is just that.