Being a design student, an architecture student more specifically, day after day I listen to individuals defend their work. I listen to them try to sell their work to our professor and explain why their work is the best. Most of the time, their efforts are futile, as we are only in our first semester and we do not know enough to make our designs effective in every aspect.
Our professor is passive when he views our work. He might say, “this is not what we were asking for”, but he has never said, “this is right” or “this is wrong”. This is not only the case with our architecture professor, but also with the state of the world that we live in. It seems that everything is up for debate. Nothing is black and white. Modern architecture moves toward objects that cannot be named, flowing and sweeping things. The world calls for things indeterminable, such as buildings made of bits and pieces of things. Just yesterday, our professor stated that there is no composition or order in things that are chaotic, but there can be order where there is chaos in the way that things are composed.
The world is moving away from workmen building from the ground up, brick by brick. In my mind, I see “Old Main Street America”. I see buildings made of stucco and brick, with shingled roofs. I see old theater marquee signs. I see the Bank on one corner of the strip and the post office on the other. Perhaps, it is that this image, which resonates in my mind, is from the days of black and white. In those days, man-made it a point to make a presence and set himself apart from the chaos of the wilderness. Every building called for a different tradesman to come and perform his special brand of magic. If you walk into a building from the nineteenth century or early twentieth century, more than likely you will see crown molding, which amazes me. There is no purpose for crown molding, other than to cover flaws in the wall, or to frame it. In some cases, this molding would be handmade. Anything made with the hands is going to have character. Even the most careful work will have characteristics that sets it apart from a piece that is made just like it. Every building was a monument to our humanness.
Frank Lloyd Wright is the father of architecture, as we know it today. The architecture, which he gave birth to, is one that celebrates nature and is almost self-conscious not to offend it. Where men in older days would say, “What a beautiful view off of this hill, let’s build the house on top of it!” Wright would avoid building on top of the hill at all costs, for the fear that he might destroy the beautiful view. It is no longer the focus of architecture to rise up out of nature and say, “I am here”. These days, architecture communicates with all aspects of the natural environment. Modern architecture compromises with light, natural elements, and space, instead of interrupting it
Below, are a few sketches by the modern Architect Frank Gehry. They are in fact, drawings of buildings, but more importantly they are drawings of nothing.
They are celebrated around the world, simply because you cannot call them by a name. If you ask this building “What are you?” It will likely answer, “I don’t know. What do you think?” Frank Gehry’s buildings are cascading and shining. They play with the light and cast shadows unimaginable. They bend the imagination. It is like Gehry decided to build them, because they make no sense and he wanted to prove he could.
Frank Gehry’s designs truly might open the eyes and mind of people all over the world. However, they are focused on the individual. I say this, because of the fact that they speak to everyone differently. They are the subject of endless debate, because they mean something different to everyone who is able to form coherent thought about anything. In that way, it separates people and I have not yet decided how I feel about that.
Architecture is the hand print of humans made in society. Each building speaks measures about the generation it came from. The voice of the work of architects of the modern-day is unclear. Being ecofriendly matters, but we should not sacrifice character for that. I believe individuality and being equally human and knowing that makes you the same as everyone else are equally important. Individuality is important, because everyone has something to offer to the world. Everyone should be allowed to be themselves. Knowing that we are equally human is important, because it gives us a sense of unity. These days, it is easy to lose sight of oneself because society calls the individual to question everything. The fact that we are human is not up for debate, and I believe that is something that should be celebrated. It is important to question things, but I believe that it is equally important to know who you are and not lose sight of yourself. This is important on the personal level, as well as in architecture.
I am completely disillusioned with the direction that the preferred architecture of the world is heading. However, I am optimistic. I am able to attend architecture studio three days a week, with a smile on my face, because I know that before it is all over with I will have a chance to put my two cents in, and ultimately leave a resonating, definite impression on the world.
I promise, it will be perfectly clear.