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Architecture

  • The style is an anomaly in this town, falling as it does between the Spanish, the Victorian, and the pointless.

  • [On Addis Ababa:] Among the city's handicaps are an immaturity for which no one can be blamed, as it was founded only eighty years ago, and a proliferation of architectural excesses for which many people can and should be blamed.

  • There is nothing that so harasses an architect giving birth to a house as the presence of the prospective owners.

  • ... the McKinleyville First Presbyterian had turned into a mortuary, and my first thought was, How could they tell?

  • Washington is an endless series of mock palaces clearly built for clerks.

  • An excellent job with a dubious undertaking, which is like saying it would be great if it wasn't awful.

    • Ada Louise Huxtable,
    • on Marcel Breuer's design for an office tower above Grand Central Terminal, in The New York Times ()
  • The capital city specializes in ballooning monuments and endless corridors. It uses marble like cotton wool. It is the home of government of, for, and by the people, and of taste for the people — the big, the bland, and the banal.

  • [On the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts:] The building is a national tragedy ... a cross between a concrete candy box and a marble sarcophagus in which the art of architecture lies buried.

  • Because it is a national landmark, there is only one way to judge the Kennedy Center — against the established standard of progressive and innovative excellence in architectural design that this country is known and admired for internationally. Unfortunately, the Kennedy Center not only does not achieve this standard of innovative excellence; it also did not seek it. The architect opted for something ambiguously called 'timelessness' and produced meaninglessness. It is to the Washington manner born. Too bad, since there is so much of it.

  • No matter what an architect may be at home, he becomes a monumentalist when he comes to Washington.

  • Beauty or beast, the modern skyscraper is a major force with a strong magnetic field. It draws into its physical being all of the factors that propel and characterize modern civilization. The skyscraper is the point where art and the city meet.

  • The skyscraper and the twentieth century are synonymous; the tall building is the landmark of our age. ... Shaper of cities and fortunes, it is the dream, past and present, acknowledged or unacknowledged, of almost every architect.

  • It is the rare architect who does not hope in his heart to design a great building and for whom the quest is not a quiet, consuming passion.

  • The skyscraper is Olympian or Orwellian, depending on how you look at it.

  • Postmodernism is a freewheeling, unfettered, and unapologetic pursuit of style.

  • [On skyscrapers:] The facades separate the artists from the hacks, the radicals from the conservatives, and the poets from the hired guns.

  • In New York, the impact of these concentrated superskyscrapers on street scale and sunlight, on the city's aniquated support systems, circulation, and infrastructure, on its already tenuous livability, overrides any aesthetic. ... Art becomes worthless in a city brutalized by overdevelopment.

  • ... the search for the ultimate skyscraper goes on. ... At worst, overbuilding will make urban life unbearable. At best, we will go out in a blaze of style.

  • Symbol and metaphor are as much a part of the architectural vocabulary as stone and steel.

  • The perennial architectural debate has always been, and will continue to be, about art versus use, visions versus pragmatism, aesthetics versus social responsibility. In the end, these unavoidable conflicts provide architecture's essential and productive tensions; the tragedy is that so little of it rises above the level imposed by compromise, and that this is the only work most of us see and know.

  • Good architecture is still the difficult, conscientious, creative, expressive planning for that elusive synthesis that is a near-contradiction in terms: efficiency and beauty.

  • [Architecture:] this uneasy, difficult combination of structure and art.

  • You should know our mania for building is stronger than ever. It is a diabolical thing. It consumes money and the more you build, the more you want to build. It's a sickness like being addicted to alcohol.

  • Cathedrals do not seem to me to have been built. They seem, rather, stupendous growths of nature, like crystals, or cliffs of basalt.

  • I love medieval cities; they do not clamor for attention; they possess their souls — their riches — in quiet; formal, courteous, they reveal themselves slowly, stone by stone, garden by garden; hidden treasures wait calmly to be loved and yield to introspective wandering.

  • I love cloisters, which are the architectural equivalent of a theological concept: perfect freedom within set boundaries.

  • Visitors to Los Angeles, then and now, were put out because the residents of Los Angeles had the inhospitable idea of building a city comfortable to live in, rather than a monument to astonish the eye of jaded travelers.

  • The Frink National Bank Building displayed the entire history of Roman art ... It offered so many columns, pediments, friezes, tripods, gladiators, urns and volutes that it looked as if it had not been built of white marble, but squeezed out of a pastry tube.

  • A house can have integrity, just like a person ...

  • ... the eternal ranchouse [was] given extra length by the two-car garage facing the street (this always reminded Justin, architecturally speaking, of bare buttocks presented to one's face).

  • [To her son, Frank Lloyd Wright:] I would have you a man of sense as well as sensibility. You will find Goodness and Truth everywhere you go. If you have to choose, choose Truth. For that is closest to Earth. Keep close to the Earth, my boy: in that lies strength. Simplicity of heart is just as necessary for an architect as for a farmer or a minister if the architect is going to build great buildings.

    • Anna Wright,
    • in Frank Lloyd Wright, An Autobiography ()
  • I think architecture is one of the predominant orderings of social space. It can construct and contain our experiences. It defines our days and nights. It literally puts us in our place.

  • The sight of such a building is like a ceaseless, changeless melody ...

  • ... a perfect piece of architecture kindles that aimless reverie, which bears the soul we know not whither.

  • A Gothic building engenders true religion ... The light, falling through colored glass, the singular forms of the architecture, unite to give a silent image of that infinite mystery which the soul for ever feels, and never comprehends.

  • Architecture is frozen music.

  • Buildings are seldom just buildings in downtown Chicago, they are Examples, and not a city on Earth, I swear, is as knowledgeably preoccupied with architectural meaning. Where else would a department store include in its advertisements the name of the architect who created it, or a newspaper property section throw in a scholarly exposition of theoretical design?

  • Chicago's downtown seems to me to constitute, all in all, the best-looking twentieth-century city, the city where contemporary technique has best been matched by artistry, intelligence, and comparatively moderated greed. No doubt about it, if style were the one gauge, Chicago would be among the greatest of all the cities of the world.

  • We have no sociology of architecture. Architects are unaccustomed to social analysis and mistrust it; sociologists have fatter fish to fry.

    • Denise Scott Brown,
    • "Room at the Top" (1975), in Ellen Perry Berkeley and Matilda McQuaid, eds., Architecture: A Place for Women ()
  • When the process of building is so carefully thought out that the product is thereby raised above the utilitarian, we call the product architecture.

  • Architecture is both a matter of utility and a matter of art, its complexities exceeding our expectations for the merely useful or merely artistic.

  • But look what we have built ... This is not the rebuilding of cities. This is the sacking of cities.

  • Cities are an immense laboratory of trial and error, failure and success, in city building and city design.

  • ... a man who builds a house never really dies.

  • ... in architecture, mediocrity is more glaringly obvious than in other lines — because there's a huge, physical object such as a building to demonstrate it.

    • Ayn Rand,
    • 1944, in Michael S. Berliner, ed., Letters of Ayn Rand ()
  • Architecture is the printing-press of all ages, and gives a history of the state of the society in which it was erected.

  • Many of my friends lived, surrounded by the most subdued and neutral styles, in Chevy Chase Careful. Another lived in a style I think of retrospectively as Kenwood Pompous, which was Chevy Chase Careful with wall-to-wall carpets and fake flowers. There was also Suburban Virginia Expensive Comfortable, which reached its peak in the early '60s with the boom in Ethel Kennedy fauna and flora — dog hair and chintz.

    • Constance Casey,
    • "Memoirs of a Congressman's Daughter," in The Washington Post Magazine ()
  • Architecture should be working on improving the environment of people in their homes, in their places of work, and their places of recreation. It should be functional and pleasant, not just in the image of the architect's ego.

  • He was one of those very rare architects who refrain from thrusting their views on their clients.

  • The Greek temple is the creation, par excellence, of mind and spirit in equilibrium.

  • Fina supposed the dwelling would be characterized as Nantucket-style, given its stone-and-shingle exterior, but it struck her as one of those made-up styles, generated by developers whose wives dressed them.

  • [On the skyscraper:] The most democratic building in the world, with its windows of uniform size dwarfing the downtown churches.

  • The ugliest line that can be drawn is a long, unbroken, mathematically correct, straight line. Apparently, because it is so ugly, the modern builder tries to use as many of these as he can get in.

  • Architecture is the purest of the plastic arts, for it does not reproduce scenes from nature and it does not borrow any literary interest by representing subjects. It stands by itself on its own ground.