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Sunday, June 18, 2017

A Debate Over Architectural Beauty and Taste

“I don't think the argument has yet to be successfully made in this thread, that beauty and taste are not the same, or, that the difference is tangible enough to be important. The Kimball is beautiful only to those of a specific taste culture, and even within that taste culture there is going to be disagreement. Gehry's later works are the poster children for this position. They are to some architects very beautiful and to other equally educated architects very ugly. Why? I think it’s because we all carry our own encyclopedias full of pleasurable architectural precedents. These encyclopedias are as unique to us as our fingerprints. Some are heavy in intellectual content, others heavier in the emotional (one could at this point mention Bach vs Beethoven). This is why many academics cringe when student critiques tread into the beauty vs non- beauty arena (or cool vs non-cool). In addition that discussion will ultimately relate to class and privilege (high culture vs low culture) which is sure to distract teachers and students alike from the task at hand. Rather speak of a process, space, relationships, and logic.”

Stephen Altherr AIA

“RE: Stephen Altherr, I'll grant that beauty and taste are often inappropriately substituted for each other and it rarely matters. But are you also intending to minimize the importance of both? If so, would you like to radically revise AIA design awards programs? Or maybe leave the "design" awards alone and establish a separate architecture awards program? One that privileges process, space, relationships and logic?”

Mike Mense FAIA

RE: Mike Mense: This implies that process, space, relationships and logic are unrelated to architectural design success. This may be true when the emphasis is on the form and appearance of a building; but it is logic that ignores the hundreds, if not thousands, of invisible decisions required to produce final shelter capacity, intensity, intrusion and dominance that is measureable. It represents logic and priorities that should be carefully considered by all who wish to build architectural knowledge.


Walter Hosack