I am not referring to the acoustic engineering of a concert hall or the aural quality of a restaurant. Rather, all works of architecture have a certain artistic volume level, from blank mute to in-your-face loud. The visual and experiential clamor of a building can reverberate with a subtle hum, or brash feedback and distortion.
Architecture possesses this important and noble side, such as the design of the historic cathedrals in Europe, New York’s September 11 Memorial, or inspiring public schools. But what about humor? Can a building be funny?
Yes! Architecture can be a witty query or a laugh-out-loud punch line.
(Continuing on my rants from previous posts on agency agony.)
I respect the city process where my designs are reviewed and approved for construction. In theory, this process can offer productive checks-and-balances. But since this is so rare these days, my idealism is often extinguished.
True story. The planning code for some new homes by Poon Design was unclear. We went to the top, asking the Planning Director for clarification on the required length of the driveways. This boss stated the driveways are to be 15 feet long. Seemed clear enough, right?
Wabi-sabi: This Japanese aesthetic concept has been around for centuries. Today, in our worrisome world, Wabi-sabi has returned with a vengeance and popularity. This philosophy describes a type of beauty that is imperfect, ever changing, and even, wonderfully flawed.
Intensely and vividly sculpted, Auguste Rodin’s sculptures displayed a desire to express an incomplete craft. Rather than the predictably perfect, classical marble sculpture, this 19th century French artist’s works are imperfect sculptures from the human hand. And he is eager to display his flawed humanity.
In Rodin’s finished pieces, one can see the imprints of his tools and fingers—and even his fingernails.
Late 80’s, College of Environmental Design, University of California, Berkeley. This public review of my studio project concludes my undergraduate studies. The class assignment: design a hypothetical church on the banks of Lake Merritt, Oakland. Analogies of good vs. evil, discussions about faith, designs representing religion, etc. saddled every student’s work.
More than an academic exercise for a mere letter grade, The American Institute of Architects co-sponsored our class, structuring it as a design competition. The winners’ drawings and models would become a public architectural exhibition.
Seeking a nice white paint for a client presentation on colors and materials, I am lost within our Dunn Edwards paint samples. Alongside the Usual Suspects, Swiss Coffee and Pearl White, there are 98 other choices for white. Literally, ninety-eight choices. Is there any other color in the world that comes in so many variations? In contrast, there are only ten choices for black.