Learn that if you look below the surface you'll see that the architect makes buildings, but they also make form, story, music
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Hi! My name is Doug Patt, and this is So You want to be an Architect, a seven part series exploring the architect, this is lesson two.
What does an architect make? On the surface, this sounds like a dumb question. An architect makes buildings, but if you look below the surface you will see that the answer is much more meaningful.
Ralph Waldo Emerson was a well known writer, philosopher and poet. He said of Greek Architecture “It is the flowering of Geometry. Translated, Emerson was referring to the Greek Architects’ elaboration and mastery of shape and form.”
Anne Louis Germaine de Stael is a little known Swiss author who lived in Paris and abroad. She has quoted a saying Architecture is frozen music. In simple terms, her comment means that Architects make a kind of static harmony of sound.
Philip Schaff was a Swiss born protestant theologian. He said, “Architecture is a hand made of devotion, a beautiful church is a sermon on stone.” Elaborating a bit on Schaff’s comment, we can imply that Architecture, like a sermon, is also a kind of message or story.
And finally John Ruskin, an author, poet and artist said of Architecture that the near side of it, “May contribute to mental health, power and pleasure.” In other words Architecture is an inspiration.
So, let us move beyond the specifics of what each person was referring to and draw some general conclusions.
In simple terms, these four individuals tell us that an Architect, when creating buildings makes form, story music and inspiration. So, let us take a look at a couple of examples of each. When I think of Architecture, a shape or form I think of Frank Gehry famous for pushing the limits of modern technology while creating monuments to modern engineering and form making. Some examples of these are his museum in Bilbao, the Status center or his Disney concert hall.
When I think of Architecture telling me a story, I think of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Guggenheim museum that tells a story from the outside about how one moves through the spiraling galleries on the inside or the Pompidou Center in Paris that tells a kind of color coded story from the outside about the mechanical inner workings that make this building function on the inside.
When I think of Architecture as beautiful music, I think of the buildings of Eero Saarinen whose work resembles naturally soaring forms as they strain to hit the high note or the way Frank Lloyd Wright’s falling water harmoniously blends in the nature and almost sings with the waterfall it sits above.
When I think of Architecture as inspiration, I think of the great cathedrals of Europe and the U.S. or the great skyscrapers of our cities. So, while some may think that Architecture is just about making buildings, you know that making Architecture is about making much more than just a box with windows.
Among other things, it is about making form, story, music and inspiration. And that concludes the second part of our video series So You want to be an Architect. I am Doug Patt, see you next time on How to Architect.