IN THE COSMOS CLUB
I am sitting alone in the Lafayette Square Lounge of the Cosmos
Club in Washington, D.C. The Cosmos Club is not a friendly place.
It can be a lonely place where one can relax, unwind, and think.
I am alone, sitting in the middle of it, thinking.
The popularity and success of architects is controlled almost exclusively,
I find, by the architectural critics of the New York Times
and Washington Post and the stories and illustrations that
appear in the architectural magazines. The kind of work that is illustrated
in the architectural press becomes fashionable and exerts an enormous
influence not only on architectural students but also on their professors,
and, sadly, with few exceptions on practicing architects themselves.
should think for themselves. Certainly, practicing architects should
do so. They should be guided by proven design principles, honesty,
simplicity, scale, and most of all, the functional efficiency of
the plan in two and three dimensions. We often see designers who
start with a preconceived shape and mass that is invariably translated
into a model that impresses the layman client. Then the plan is
made to fit without much care as to its functional efficiency. The
model becomes a stage setting with a cardboard facade having no
honest expression of what occurs within. Shapes and forms or parts
of ancient buildings are borrowed from the past and used in strange
ways and simply pasted on.
I have never
liked to label architecture as modern, contemporary, or post-modern.
It should be simply good design based on sound principles, interpreted,
and presented in the designer's own way for a specific project.
Each design will be different because of the myriad of special forces
that exert an influence on the direction of a given design, such
as site, program, budget, climate, availability and accessibility
of materials, and the owner.
of the owner on a building cannot be overstated.