Sunday, July 1, 2012

About architecture

I probably misnamed this posting. It's as much about architecture as it is about the architect.

In the fifteenth century, an architect was a liberal arts guy with an eye for structure, symmetry, and form. Consider this passage from a description of the time:

A true architect can't be just a master of his trade. He had to be a well-rounded person....let him be educated, skillful with the pencil, instructed in geometry, know much about history, have followed the philosophers with attention, understand music, have some knowledge of medicine, and be acquainted with astronomy and the theory of the heavens".
(Of course, the pencil was not invented until late 16th century, so this passage from 100 years earlier is translated from the Latin or the Italian with some flourish)
And then we learn this:

Architecture is the defining art. It creates civilization. It constructs homes and lays out cities...It designs temples, revealing the will of the gods...It produces machines, guaranteeing victory in time of war and prosperity in time of peace... It builds empire

I will say this: some of my best software people were music majors. The poetry of music fits well the poetry of software.

Someone who builds empire!
I always wanted one of those. (I got no closer than being someone's Vice President, and we didn't have much of an empire to speak of)

But on a serious note, you can see these passages at work in some of the world's most interesting buildings (See: Opera House, Sydney), but also in some of the most elegant digital processing, to say nothing of the beauty of the recent Apple products.

Architecture is alive and well all around us and in every project, whether we acknowledge it or not. Everything we design or build has architecture--no structure, tangible or intangible, is without it--and every structure, whatever it is, is probably for the better if an architect has weighed in.

And, I've always advocated an architect on the project team. Now, I'm wondering how I ever did without one.

Quotes taken from "Da Vinci's Ghost" by Toby Lester

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