I couldn't agree less. You state that "many of us are beholden to the idea that when we do a building, we do the whole building". Clearly you are assuming that the architect's role is limited to the skin – which is inaccurate in many if not most cases. You also imply that the only requirement for this skin is to hide the contents – which, again, is inaccurate. Finally, I am not sure what you would think a "sequitir" skin would be in this case. Appropriately, given the aforementioned assumptions, your logic seems pretty thin and superficial.
I would argue that circulation in and through these structures – both vehicular and pedestrian – are essential architectural concerns. In the best examples these factors, appropriately, inform the architects process when they design these facilities – the whole facility, not just the skin. I certainly remember a couple of National AIA Honor Award winning parking structures in my state (Iowa) by Herbert Lewis Kruse Blunck that were (and are) spectacular.
Congrats....I have never responded to this thread. Mission accomplished - you have provoked discussion.
Paul Mankins FAIA, LEED AP Principal substancearchitecture 1300 Walnut Street, Suite 201 Des Moines, Iowa 50309 T 515-699-1650 O 515-243-4407 substancearchitecture.com
Mike -- You do have me curious now about the difference you make between "talking schools" and "drawing schools," particularly after having given an example of a "talking school" as UC Berkeley and your alma mater as a "drawing school", but then giving examples of "talking" architects as Nouvel, Mayne, and Gehry. (All three have had successful careers and done lots of interesting buildings, so they are doing much more than "talking." At first, I thought you were perhaps making a distinction between architects in academia and architects in practice, and by extension, possibly, between the schools that tended to graduate each type and with which architects like these three may associate as adjunct faculty.My guess is that it is more likely that you are pointing out a difference between schools that tend to shape their programs more toward practice skill topics (learning about materials and construction details, for example, or business practices) vs. those that may focus most of the study on design, design theory, and architectural history.The principal of the firm to whom I made reference in my earlier post was, indeed, a Berkeley architectural undergrad and then got a 1-year master's degree at Harvard, if I recall. He wasn't a naturally talented designer, but he definitely had a well-thought out point of view about design. I experienced a practice environment like none other I had before or after my time in that office. We did no working drawings (it was his feeling that what architects did best was design, and that's what most of their time should be spent doing), all drawing was done freehand with ink (markers) .... no T-squares and triangles .... and all done using a 13" foot module so that the dimensioning of the buildings would more closely align with the metric system that most of the world was using and that the U.S. construction industry would eventually use as well.Although the firm didn't do working drawings, it did hand over a very, very extensive set of design development drawings to the firms with which it partnered to do the working drawings, and tracked their work closely. When a client came to the office for a meeting, in the conference room on the wall large rolls of newsprint paper were mounted. As the meeting went on, everything was written/drawn/noted on that paper, and as the meeting came close to ending, someone from the office would quickly go over to the nearby print shop to have those large paper rolls xeroxed and reduced to 8 1/2x11 or so size sheets so the client could leave the office with the meeting's notes. It was very impressive, I must say, and the standards that the office had for its work forever made an impression on me.------------------------------John McLean AIAJohn McLean, ArchitectSan Francisco CA------------------------------
Original Message:Sent: 04-14-2017 12:16From: Mike MenseSubject: what is architectureJohnThis is a wonderful story and a thoughtful definition. Thank you for contributing. I realize my response here is off target but, well, anyway, here it is. When I was young there was some sense that there were "drawing" schools and "talking" schools. Sounds like you went to a drawing school and your principal went to a talking school. Rumor had it that Berkeley was a talking school. I am pretty sure I went to a drawing school which was good for me because I was and still am a talker. Jean Nouvelle is a talker. I would argue that Thom Mayne and Frank Gehry are talkers. I wonder if anyone else has any interest in this subject.Thanks again for contributing.MikeSent from my iPad
What is architecture? It's a good question, Mike. It's the same one Augustus asked Vitruvius. There are so many facets that must be reconciled to arrive at an answer! It's another design problem. We are often distracted by a few high priority facets and compromise with others to arrive at an answer. I think our education has taught us that there are many answers but few exceptional concepts. Intelligence gathering and logical evaluation are key ingredients. The following is a concept to consider:
Architecture is a tactical plan written and drawn to achieve a shelter objective with construction forces.
City design is a strategic plan written and drawn to achieve a goal with many tactical objectives that affect the Shelter, Movement, Open Space, and Life Support divisions of our Built Domain.
We must learn to shelter the activities of growing populations within limited geographic areas that protect their source of life – The Natural Domain.
The goal is a declared policy of symbiotic survival.
This is the first time that I have engaged in this forum. I felt compelled to write because I wrote a book on parking garages and studied their evolution. At the turn of the 20th century this building type was designed and built by all of the famous architects and was an amazing opportunity in structure, façade compositions, space, and planning - as well a delight! Many of you are working (your offices may be in) in one of these old parking garages today. They were an integral part of the urban fabric and designed just as beautifully as any building of the time. How ramps emerged was another amazing exploration in space, form, structure and construction for cars and people. As the new movement system, the car was arriving into our built environment - how to house it - became a critical architectural and planning challenge, I believe the most important of the 20th century. About mid-century as the building type became its "standardized" form that we think of today - cost and efficiency became the norm - although the single and double tee developed due to this typology at this time. Recently, we are seeing a resurgence in interest in the typology with many new amazing architectural and planning solutions. Oh yes and by the way - the earliest greens roofs were on parking garages!! - and so much more innovation. However, I think that the best is yet to come, as our movement system is about to change again - and from my perspective how we move through space is what creates and changes design thinking.
The conversation is very interesting. The comments of Mr. Murray, FAIA are certainly pertinent.
I used to officiate three different sports. My mentors told me that you can only officiate the game as well as it is played. Architecture is likely the same way. An architect can only design any building including parking structures as well as the client or budget will allow. Paul Rudolph and I.M. Pei designed parking garages. I would say their garages are "A"rchitecture, at least at the time of their construction. It seems as if Architecture can be applied to any building type – the limitations come from outside sources. The "A" will normally apply to the exterior as the traffic layout will dictate the "a"rchitecture of the interior layout.
Greg Burke, AIA, NCARB
2017 AIA National Committee for Equity and the Future of Architecture
2015-2016 AIA Florida Vice President
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ADDITIONAL COMMENTS REGARDING "WHAT IS ARCHITECTURE?"A concept does not become knowledge until it can repeat success and avoid failure. In architecture, a concept is considered artistic inspiration. Repetition is considered plagiarism. As a consequence, the pursuit of fine art and the fear of plagiarism have led us away from the formation of knowledge that can improve the practice of the entire profession. This will continue as long as fine art is considered to be the answer to the question, "What is architecture?" Only the best is fine art; and fine art is the form, function, and appearance of a complex anatomy. This anatomy is created by an orchestra of technical specialties with a score written, drawn, and conducted by an architect. There are few masterpieces but many compositions. This is architecture, and its greatest strength is a constant search for improvement with logic that always grapples with the unknown. It is the only way to write a score that correlates the performance of an orchestra.
The decisions that set the stage for inspiration are consistent and mathematical. The values chosen determine the shelter capacity of land and the intensity, intrusion, and dominance introduced. These factors can also be measured at existing locations for comparison and evaluation. Architectural form, function, and appearance emerge from these site plan parameters to amplify the quality of life defined at street level. The correlated result symbolizes a culture's current opinions, knowledge, and ability. This is architecture with a language that can elevate its tactical efforts to the strategic level of city design. In other words, architecture is (can be) a tactical and strategic profession that produces shelter strategy for growing populations. It is served by movement, open space, and life support within a Built Domain that must pursue a policy of symbiotic survival.
A logical, consistent mathematical foundation for ensuing design decisions has never eliminated inspiration. It provides a platform of knowledge to justify design decisions that are presently defended with politically vulnerable opinion.