Seeing the terrible devastation of parts of Abaco and Grand Bahama in the wake of Hurricane Dorian, has sadly reminded of my work in Mississippi with my New Urbanist colleagues shortly after Katrina. Since our efforts there, much has been learned about recovery and rebuilding after natural disasters. Indeed, the work began at the charrette by the architecture team has gone on to evolve into emergency housing as well as also being at the forefront of the tiny home movement.
I am republishing the following essay, which I wrote after returning from the Mississippi Renewal Forum. At the time I struggled to put into words what I had seen and experienced, as I know so many will now again. My heart is with them as is my hope that some of what we learned then can help now.
Why do we choose to make our buildings look one way and not another? How should our buildings look? Two different but related questions, the answers to which are many and difficult to tease apart, for architecture operates on many levels.
Today, many who regard themselves as classicists all
too often answer “how should our buildings look” with a resounding: classically
correct! This is understandable as 21st century classicism is still
operating in recovery mode. The lacuna of what we simplistically call modernism
nearly broke the chain of tradition preceding it. In this regard, we are not
unlike our Renaissance predecessors.
Late this summer, I was pleased to spend an afternoon with Spencer Campbell of 5280 Magazine, touring him around the city and looking at examples of new residential designs, discussing their positive or negative impact on the public realm.
His article is now out, and I am so pleased that 5280 Home is taking on the issue of design quality in Denver. To read the article, click here.
Christine G.H. Franck has been chosen as the recipient of the 2016 Clem Labine Award. The Award is given annually to the person who, in the judgment of the Award Selection Committee, has done the most to “foster beauty and humane values in the built environment.”
I enjoyed presenting this brief lecture at the 24th Congress for the New Urbanism (CNU) on the panel discussion “Architecture of Urbanism,” along with panelists Vinayak Bharne, Gary Brewer, Ellen Dunham-Jones, John Massengale, Steve Mouzon, Stefanos Polyzoides, Dan Solomon, Paddy Steinschneider, Galina Tachieva, and Samir Younés.
The panelists examined the specific means by which architecture, one building at a time, forms the urbanism of a place. The issue of the role of architecture and architectural style and character has been a long-running debate in the CNU.
The Congress for the New Urbanism is an international nonprofit organization working to build vibrant communities where people have diverse choices for how they live, work, and get around. For more information see www.cnu.org.
Recorded in Savannah, Georgia, this brief lecture, delivered to trustees of the Institute of Classical Architecture & Art, presents the history of the development of the ICAA over the years and its place in the larger context of architecture, urban design, landscape, decoration, construction, and the arts today.
N.B., as history is only as good as the historian, corrections and additions to this story are welcome by the author.