November 1, 2009
CONNECTED TO BUILDINGS: ON THE SOCIAL MEANING OF ARCHITECTURE
Goldberger, Paul, Why Architecture Matters (New Haven & London: Yale U. Press, 2009) (“The purpose of this book is to explain what buildings do beyond keeping us out of the rain. . . .” “Architecture begins to matter when it goes beyond protecting us from the elements, when it begins to say something about the world—when it begins to take on the qualities of art. . . .”The making of architecture is intimately connected to the knowledge that buildings instill with us emotional reactions. They can make us feel and they can also make us think. . . .” “Buildings tell us what we are and what we want to be, and sometimes it is the average ones that tell us the most.’ Id. at ix-xii. "Architecture . . . is the making of place and the making of memory. The urban impulse is an impulse toward community--an impulse toward being together and toward accepting the idea that however different we may be, something unites us. But what do we do in an age when every force pushes us away from cities, pushes us apart rather than together? And how do we make valid, lasting memory when it becomes so easy not to see the familiar, when we take it for granted and no longer even notice it? As we move more and more into an age in which we do not automatically build cities, an age in which architectural experiences seem increasingly standardized and homogenized--and hence all the more susceptible to the dangers of familiarity--we have to think hard about how the experience of being together will come to pass and how architecture can express a sense of community, a sense of common ground, and still somehow be able to possess both vitality and valid meaning for our time." Id. at 234. I always take note of the architecture of law school buildings. Increasingly new law school buildings look like government office buildings (the domain of the bureaucrats). Or, the resemble small convention centers (the domain of the marketers). Very few new law school building convey the serious, solemn, and dignified power and aura of LAW. In approaching a law school building, I always thought, one should be overwhelm with feelings akin to approaching a court: that serious matters would be considered and decided here. Unfortunately, many contemporary law school buildings project the image of a traffic or small claims court, or a mini-mall.).