I read a book review in the Boston Globe about a book I’ll definitely have to add to my reading list, The Architecture of Happiness by Alain de Botton. The book apparently explores the why of architecture.

What de Botton tries to do is figure out why there have been, and still are, so many different styles of architecture. Why do some of us like one thing — let’s say, glass-and-steel modernism — while others despise it? Why do so many Americans in 2007 wish to live in copies of the red-brick-white-trim Georgian architecture of the 18th century?
The author understands that sometimes we seek what is familiar, orderly, and predictable in the world we build, as in that Georgian house. But he also understands that sometimes we don’t. Sometimes we seek the new, the shocking, the slightly crazy.
Both reactions are fine with de Botton. He’s not interested in pushing one or the other. Instead he wants to figure out where our different tastes come from.
His answer is that every building embodies a message. It billboards a certain set of values.

Sounds like a fascinating read.

My current favorite book on architecture is How Buildings Learn: What Happens After They’re Built by Stuart Brand.

On a related note, I found a few other things of interest in the world of architecture in my perusal of the web:

  1. A photoset of New York City storefronts.
  2. A French photo website called Photography of Unexpected and Neglected Architecture.
  3. An article that tells how if you want to build a successful neighborhood, put a library in the middle of it.

5 thoughts on “Architecture

  1. A movement afoot to grant landmark status to Boston City Hall. Perhaps a landmark to how-not-to-do-it or reminder of Modern architecture at it’s most insensitive? Now, I’m not the type to totally slam on City Hall. When you can see just part of the building from the Washington Street pedestrian mall or from Haymarket, it looks pretty cool and makes a visually interesting contrast to its surrounding. But when you see the whole building in its entirety you can tell it’s a failure, especially among the open plains of brick which do nothing to hide its defects. Worse, the interior is a mess with no inclination of how to ease human movement. I say that when they have the time and money, Boston should bulldoze the building and replace it with something better, even a good Modern building a la Frank Gehry.

    The City Record and Boston News-Letter presents an opposing view.


  2. Do not go to City Hall if they are offering free Irish stew in honor of St. Patrick’s Day. Especially if you have crowd anxiety. You might find yourself at McDonald’s trying to recover.


  3. Boston City Hall is a F-A-I-L-U-R-E! According to George Thrush in the May 13, 2007 edition of the Boston Globe.

    City Hall is an interesting building, to be sure, and architecturally important too. But this location is more important. To insist that the preservation of this building is critical to our future is to see that future in the narrowest way. It is to imagine that Boston had vision just once in recent memory — in the 1960s.


  4. ARRRRchitecture!!!


    This is refined (and inland) New Canaan, CT we’re talking about so I’ll have to drop the pirate speak momentarily. I grew up in the next town over and never new that New Canaan was a hotbed of architecture.


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