Thursday, December 22, 2016

Geometry & Anguish: The History of Buildings

The two elements the traveler first captures in the big city are extra-human architecture and furious rhythm. Geometry and anguish.
 ~ Federico García Lorca

Merriam-Webster online define architecture as "the art or science of building; specifically: the art or practice of designing and building structures and especially habitable ones; formation or construction resulting from or as if from a conscious act; a unifying or coherent form or structure." Frank Lloyd Wright called it "the mother art," and Winston Churchill asserted, "We shape our buildings; thereafter they shape us." Have you thought about the buildings in your life? You probably have thought about the architecture of your home, if you own it; maybe your workplace, particularly if its construction is awkward or inhibiting; or maybe you are an aficionado of fine buildings. We do live in the city of Bart Prince, with a college designed by John Gaw Meem; the state whose capital features the Santa Fe Downtown and Eastside Historic District and three Archaeological Districts, as well as a distinctive architectural style; the state which inspired Pueblo Revival style. Did you know that Albuquerque's own Main Library was designed in the Brutalist style, and our Central & Unser branch won an award?

On which side do you fall in the form versus function debate? Frank Stella said "Architecture can't fully represent the chaos and turmoil that are part of the human personality, but you need to put some of that turmoil into the architecture, or it isn't real."  The late Zaha Hadid lamented "I wish it was possible to divert some of the effort we put into ambitious museums and galleries into the basic architectural building blocks of society," which we understand to mean that it would be nice if some more pedestrian buildings had been constructed with more imagination and scope. There's a lot to debate in architecture.

We've been thinking a lot about architecture and buildings lately. How are our lives shaped by the architecture around us? What does great architecture contribute to our lives? Skyscrapers are taken for granted now, but once they were daring and strange - how else have buildings transformed our culture? Hence, we've constructed the following booklist to help us understand the history of buildings. As one of the following books is summarized, "The rooms we live in are always more than just four walls. As we decorate these spaces and fill them with objects and friends, they shape our lives and become the backdrop to our sense of self. One day, the houses will be gone, but even then, traces of the stories and the memories they contained will remain."

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