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Message - Re: To sir Paul......

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Posted by  Paul Malo on March 06, 2002 at 06:38:11:

In Reply to:  To sir Paul...... posted by beginer on March 06, 2002 at 02:15:14:

What a good question! Because architecture is such a broad subject, there are many different kinds of architects and specialists within the practice of architecture. But as you mention design, let's strike at the heart of the matter.

Look as much as possible. It's a myth that an artist can be "creative" and invent new images without influence of other things previously seen. Creativity is merely reassembling material in one's memory, and the more images you have stored there, the more creative you may be. This is not a matter of copying, or even imitating, specific things you have seen, but of learning from them, so that they can be reinterpreted differently.

When you look at buildings, it's not sufficient to exclaim, "Oh, wow!" or "I like that." You don't learn until you ask WHY do I like it? What's different about this from others I have seen? The process of identifying what makes something work is the process of learning about design.

Generally what is required is called, technically, "abstraction." In another post, about Pei's Rock n' Roll Museum, I spoke, for instance, about "scale." That term is an "abstraction." The word refers to a quality that we recognize from asking the "why?" question. When you keep asking what makes designs work, you will begin to develop these abstractions about qualities of design. These become the basic design tools.

Don't let anyone try to train you to do "formula" design. Although Corb was a fine artist, many students and their teachers suppose that they can "learn" the Corb design process by accepting "rules." This is mistaken. The notion that architecture requires a grid of round columns on a plan, with no walls touching the columns, is simple-minded nonsense. This sort of "design" is mere fashion, but is tempting, since not merely students but often their teachers hope to produce work that has the look of being up-to-date and tuned in to current trends. But this sort of device surely is already retro eighty years after it appeared.

Many design studios however will endeavor to produce projects that have an acceptable "look." If this is mere fashionable appearance, not much is being learned, since the desired looks change very quickly these days. What you learn in school today may be outmoded by the time you design a real building, if all that you have learned is what was trendy five years ago.

This is why you need to ask questions, to go beyond the mere appearances of what you see. In the case of the Pei project, I would never want to design anything that looked like that--but I can learn about design from asking myself what about it seems to work well, and what does not.

That's what you should be doing--thinking critically.

 
 
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