Monday, April 26, 2010

When Architecture Works

The thing about a building like the New York Public Library is that it enhances its occupants. I feel like a scholar - which I'm not - when I go in there.

My favorite image is snow covering the lions - Patience and Fortitude, of whom my father does a great impersonation - that guard the front door:


zombie rotten mcdonald said...

I would argue that architecture always works.

Sometimes it works...poorly.

I have always been intrigued by the tension created by trying to create something with so many opposing forces. You need to create something that responds to various levels of visual aesthetics, as N__B has pointed out, but also meet the needs of structural necessity, and building codes, budget, site constraints, and oh yes, the actual functions that are to be accommodated not to mention humans, arbitrary decisions by owners and/or bankers, while striving to reach for something that approaches art.... or at least doesn't suck.

That second part is where I thrive. sometimes.

N__B said...

One of the great tools that many modern architects refuse to use is fakery. The NYPL, despite its strong resemblance to a renaissance palace, is largely a steel-frame building. This is the opposite of "structural honesty" but goes a long way towards resolving four or five of the forces in your list.

zombie rotten mcdonald said...

Fakery? Of course I wouldn't stoop to fakery!

Early in my career, I designed this:

That big keystone in the middle? EIFS over metal frame. The huge steel trusses hold up hardly anything besides themselves.

Big Bad Bald Bastard said...

Wow, you two sure do place nicely together sometimes. This is a good thing, because the kids cry when you fight.

I love the Public Library- it's like the Temple of Knowledge.

zombie rotten mcdonald said...

yeah, I haven't been myself the last couple of days.