Saturday, October 1, 2011

The Old Way of Seeing

In the good old days when life (and transportation) was slower there was a much greater emphasis on the inclusion of detail in architectural design than exists today.  On the exterior this detail was often inextricably linked with light and shadow – creating patterns and textures that helped give buildings a lively face – something of a life of their own.  Today we flash by most of our buildings with little scrutiny – and with correspondingly little need for well articulated facades – unless, of course, you slow down enough to actually look (!).

Architects used to study buildings in situ by drawing them – drawing the light and shadow.  This took some time and forced one to actually see (and understand) what they were looking at (!). Today's architects can take a few moments and capture numerous photographic images with little critical seeing or understanding (besides, there's always Photoshop).  Times have changed and our man-made world is becoming increasingly less appealing.

The older bank is alive and kicking while the newer bank is DOA


  1. It's also vey much like the difference in drawing/designing with a pencil vs. a CAD computer. The pencil implants your soul in the drawing, in the design. The computer steals your soul and gives you economy bytes.

  2. This topic made me think of one of my favorite buildings of all time - the Farmers and Merchants Union Bank in Columbus, Wisconsin:,_Wisconsin) The observation of the negative impacts of 'faster-is-better' on our built environment is spot on ... these trends are hard to reverse, but perhaps a WPA renaissance is in the making (sure feels like it).