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Demonstrating the ideas that make great architecture possible, an architectural critic charts the course of the art, showing how architects lost their sure course around 1830 and explaining how to recapture the basics that can improve our visual environment
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In a compelling manifesto that addresses the puzzlement of why new buildings are so often ugly compared to those of earlier eras, Hale, a Boston architect and critic, argues that until around 1830 virtually every building was designed as a composition of interrelated elements in accordance with an age-old tradition of harmony, geometry and adaptation of natural forms. Beginning with the Greek Revival, he contends, this intuitive way of seeing and designing was lost, leading ultimately to the pretension, blandness and downright unattractiveness of most modern architecture. While praising the Bauhaus as a valiant attempt to reintegrate time-honored aesthetic values into the industrialized world, Hale deems the modernist International Style a failure. He proposes Frank Lloyd Wright's organic style as a touchstone for architects seeking to create buildings that are alive and resonant with meaning. This impassioned essay, interspersed with social history, includes scores of photographs of buildings, some of which are overlaid with what Hale calls a pattern of "regulating lines" that fit the elements of the design into a proportional system. As he shows, "Whether the designer knew he was creating the pattern is less important than that the pattern is there." Illustrations.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.
An architect and critic elaborates on what most of us see when we look at much of modern architecture: buildings that are lifeless and just plain ugly. Hale laments the current state of architecture and the loss of ``harmonious design,'' an art that involves play and intuition. ``A great building can give us the same exhilaration we experience in a natural landscape,'' he writes. He urges architects and designers to rediscover the beauties of natural law and geometry, to abandon the fragmentation he sees as characteristic of postmodern architecture. He offers a historical summary of how building strayed, in the middle of the 19th century coincident with the Industrial Revolution, from the intuitive verities of harmony and balance, forsaking meaningful patterns for crude symbolism or somber functionality. Photos. -- Copyright ©1994, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
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