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What Is “Good Architecture?”

September 20, 2022


What is “Good Architecture?” Morally? Ethically? Aesthetic? Every person has a sense of “Good” – in life and its outcomes – and architecture synthesizes humanity’s values – both universal and fully idiosyncratic.

ArchDaily is the preeminent architectural website, with 3 million visits a week, often 1 million in a day: They ask me to write once a month for them on their monthly Site Topic: This week’s topic is What Makes Architectural Beauty?” Here is my piece out THIS MORNING:

For fifty years architect and scientist Christopher Alexander spent his life defining what is “Good Architecture.” He wrote that “Good Architecture” has an essential truth: “The quality is objective and precise but cannot be named.” His (and many others) pursuit of “Wholeness” in architecture was fully “objective and precise” but in the end came to have the result of “Beauty” without any other definition.

When lifetimes are spent in architecture to an end that “cannot be named”, the acceptance of the fact that we cannot define, let alone control “Beauty” is daunting. Leonardo da Vinci offered a prescription that defies any control by the creator: “Life is pretty simple. You do some stuff. Most Fails. Some works. You do more of what works.”  Beyond building, what works to make architecture, is “Beauty.” Humanity wants to define and control and reproduce success – but if success in making “Good Architecture” is facilitating the uncontrollable responses that are manifest in our genetics, then “Beauty” is out of our control.

The exquisitely subjective reality of our humanity has a universality of truth in architecture. I think finding what is already there within each of us and listening to that essential reality, “without a name”, is the hardest and most natural way to define “Good Architecture.

The measure of “Good Architecture” is found in every human, much to the frustration of those who seek to validate their worth in judgments born of rationalization. As the writer Henry James said, “I don’t care anything about reasons, but I know what I like.”

A group of people join HOME PAGE – architects, real estate brokers, editors – to give their life-long realizations on what they find to be “Good” in architecture. Architects Turner Brooks,Steve Mouzon, Clay Chapman, Realtor Leigh Whiteman, Editor Martin Pedersen, Architecture Dean Jim Fuller, Builder Keith Knickerbocker give us their thoughts! JOIN US!

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