Architecture Aphorisms

Aphorisms on:


“I approach each building as a sculptural object, a spatial container, a space with light and air, a response to context and appropriateness of feeling and spirit. To this container, this sculpture, the user brings his baggage, his program, and interacts with it to accommodate his needs. If he can’t do that, I’ve failed.”– Frank Gehry, 1980

“An architect is primarily a builder… but also a poet, and a humanist. At its core, architecture is making shelter.” – Renzo Piano

“Architecture is an art of building emotions, [especially] emotions about beauty…  Beauty is one of the few human emotions that can compete with true power (money, might, etc.).” – Renzo Piano

“Fantasy is good, but like marmalade, it is best in small doses, and when spread on great piece of bread.” – Renzo Piano

“Architecture must burn. Architecture must be a flame that shines out of the drabness of our daily existence.  It must be a fire that transform the materials of our lives.  It must explode our indifference… More often than not our buildings are bland translations of conventions, functions, and convenience… Architecture, on the other hand, is always too much… Architecture must be the beacon of coherence in the world we inhabit…” – A. Betsky

“When a building tells you how it is made, how it has weathered, how it stands up, and how it fits together, it makes things clear. A good piece of architecture can be a frame that is its own picture, a message contained within the medium and representation of self. Architecture can make things clear.” – A. Betsky

“When a building is truly great, the simple idea of being in one place, with the world turning all around you, can become something at which you marvel. The basic elements of this built culture are simple: texture, rhythm, light, and sometimes, sight and sound… These are the basic elements of architecture. Not its rules, styles, or social impact, but the sheer wonder of its parts, assembled into its parts, heightens our senses. Buildings alone do not do this. Architecture, on the other hand, draws out the strange act of making a place into something we can experience.  The articulation of experience is at the core of architecture.” – A. Betsky

“The perennial architectural debate has always been, and will continue to be, about art versus use, vision versus pragmatism, aesthetics versus social responsibility.  In the end, these unavoidable conflicts provide architecture’s essential and productive tensions; the tragedy is that so little of it rises above the level imposed by compromise, and that this is the only work most of us see and know.”  – Ada Louise Huxtable

“Architecture is the art which so disposes and adorns the edifices raised by man… that the sight of them contributes to his mental health, power and pleasure.” – Ruskin, Seven Lamps of Arch.

“Architecture is the most fragile of all the media – it has a practical application as well as an artistic application… People demolish and change buildings all the time and an architect’s work is destroyed, but you wouldn’t think about altering a painting or music.” – R. Venturi

“Goodbye, icons; hello, infrastructure: Obama inaugurates a new era of architecture” – Blair Kamin, Chicago Tribune, 1/24/09

“Architecture is at one and the same time a science and an art. As a science, it demands knowledge; as an art it requires talents.  Talent is accuracy and facility in the application of knowledge; and such accuracy and facility can only be acquired only through sustained practice and repeated application… To become perfectly acquainted with a science, it is enough to listen, to understand, and to remember; but to possess an art, what is known must be applied; and the degree of talent, or the greater or lesser facility in applying one’s knowledge, depends on the number of applications that one has made…. For any art to be practiced with success, it must be practiced with relish, with love; and this presupposes some notion of what it is. You cannot love what you do not know, as a poet said.  It is necessary to know why it is practiced: to know in other words, the end that it sets itself and the means that it employs to that end.” – J.N.L. Durand

“Architecture is space, light, function, walls that open and close, vents that open. In my country, it’s about handling heavy rainfalls. Architecture is not merchandise, and it’s not just an object in itself. Like a violin, it’s an instrument that’s part of an orchestra or quartet. Like a yacht, you should be able to modify and manipulate its form and skin according to seasonal conditions…” – Glen Murcutt

“There is no difference between a piece of furniture and a house,” – Jean Prouve

“Architecture must come from industrial design, which will bring it into harmony with the achievements of science.” – Prouve

“Architecture is the unavoidable art.”– L. Roth

‘Put three architects in a room, and you’ll get five opinions’.” – R. Lewis

“Architecture is what nature cannot make.” – L. Kahn

“Architecture is the preservation of body temperature combined with the quest for ritual behavior.” – Hollein

“Architecture immortalizes and glorifies something. Hence, there can be no architecture where there is nothing to glorify.” – L. Wittgenstein

“An architect is a bricklayer who has learned Latin… Only a very small part of architecture belongs to art: the tomb and the monument.  Everything else, everything that serves a purpose, should be excluded from the realms of art.”  — Loos

“A bicycle shed is a building, Lincoln cathedral is a piece of architecture.” — Nikolaus Pevsner

“Great nations write their autobiographies in three manuscripts–the book of their deeds, the book of their words, and the book of their art. Not one of these can be understood unless we read the other two; but of the three, the only quite trustworthy one is the last.”  – J. Ruskin

“Architecture is the will of the age conceived in space, nothing else…” Mies van der Rohe, 1924

“Architecture is not building. Architecture is that cast of synthetical thought in response to which the multiple elements of architecture are led synchronically to express a purpose.”  Le Corbusier, 1929

“Thus we may claim that the built invariably comes into existence out of the constantly evolving interplay of three converging vectors, the topos, the typos, and the tectonic.” – K. Frampton

“The new Student Center at IIT marks a transition from the era of ‘God is in the details,’ to that of ‘No money, no details.’… from a fetishism about appearance of construction… [to] buildings that are appropriate and critical condensers of existing technologies and social relations… from structure to image, from solution to open-ended situation.” – A. Betsky

Details are the architect’s “autograph” – C. Scarpa

“Architecture is the art of making the unnecessary necessary” – Frederick Kiesler

In Kapoor’s work materiality is of the essence, though always in connection with a notion of presence and spirituality that go beyond the objects’ superficial “matter of factness”.  “Material somehow always leads on to something immaterial” as Kapoor has put it.

“I think craft is primarily the product of the hand, art is a product of the heart and design is a product of the mind.” – Myra Nakashima.

Will Bruder: An Architect:
1  must be a poet and a pragmatist
2  must be a leader not a survivor
3  must be insatiably curious and without complacency
4  must always remember that architecture happens because of the client not despite the client
5  must learn from the past and live in the future
6  must never ignore the power of “place” both natural and manmade
7  must possess an integrity of focus complimented with an ability to laugh
8  must be humble enough to know that perfection is not possible but arrogant enough to keep reaching
9   a real architect must be both passionate and compassionate
10 a real architect must be a great listener and enjoy the music of life


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