主页 How Buildings Learn: What Happens After They’re Built
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How Buildings Learn: What Happens After They’re Built

Buildings have often been studies whole in space, but never before have they been studied whole in time. How Buildings Learn is a masterful new synthesis that proposes that buildings adapt best when constantly refined and reshaped by their occupants, and that architects can mature from being artists of space to becoming artists of time.

From the connected farmhouses of New England to I.M. Pei's Media Lab, from "satisficing" to "form follows funding," from the evolution of bungalows to the invention of Santa Fe Style, from Low Road military surplus buildings to a High Road English classic like Chatsworth—this is a far-ranging survey of unexplored essential territory.

More than any other human artifacts, buildings improve with time—if they're allowed to. How Buildings Learn shows how to work with time rather than against it.

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YEAR AFTER YEAR, the cultural elite of San Francisco is treated to the sight of its pre-eminent ladies, resplendently gowned, lined up in public waiting to pee. The occasion is intermission at the annual gala opening of the opera. The ground-floor ladies’ room at the Opera House is too small (the men’s isn’t). This has been the case since the place was built in 1932. As the women are lined up right next to the lobby bar, their plight has become a traditional topic of discussion. The complaints and jokes never change. Neither does the ladies’ room.

Between the world and our idea of the world is a fascinating kink. Architecture, we imagine, is permanent. And so our buildings thwart us. Because they discount time, they misuse time.

Almost no buildings adapt well. They’re designed not to adapt; also budgeted and financed not to, constructed not to, administered not to, maintained not to, regulated and taxed not to, even remodeled not to. But all buildings (except monuments) adapt anyway, however poorly, because the usages in and around them are changing constantly.

The problem is world-scale—the building industry is the second-largest in the world (after agriculture). Buildings contain our lives and all civilization. The problem is also intensely personal. If you look up from this book, what you almost certainly see is the inside of a building. Glance out a window and the main thing you notice is the outside of other buildings. They look so static.

Buildings loom over us and persist beyond us. They have the perfect memory of materiality. When we deal with buildings we deal with decisions taken long ago for remote reasons. We argue with anonymous predecessors and lose. The best we can hope for is compromise with the fait accompli of the building. The whole idea of architecture is permanence. University donors invest in “bricks and mortar” rather than professorial chairs because of the lure of a lasting monument. In wider use; , the term “architecture” always means “unchanging deep structure.”

It is an illusion. New usages persistently retire or reshape buildings. The old church is torn down, lovely as it is, because the parishioners have gone and no other use can be found for it. The old factory, the plainest of buildings, keeps being revived: first for a collection of light industries, then for artists’ studios, then for offices (with boutiques and a restaurant on the ground floor), and something else is bound to follow. From the first drawings to the final demolition, buildings are shaped and reshaped by changing cultural currents, changing real-estate value, and changing usage.

The word “building” contains the double reality. It means both “the action of the verb BUILD” and “that which is built”—both verb and noun, both the action and the result. Whereas “architecture” may strive to be permanent, a “building” is always building and rebuilding. The idea is crystalline, the fact fluid. Could the idea be revised to match the fact?

That’s the intent of this book. My approach is to examine buildings as a whole—not just whole in space, but whole in time. Some buildings are designed and managed as a spatial whole, none as a temporal whole. In the absence of theory or standard practice in the matter, we can begin by investigating: What happens anyway in buildings over time?

Two quotes are most often cited as emblems of the way to understand how buildings and their use interact. The first, echoing the whole length of the 20th century, is “Form ever follows function.” Written in 1896 by Louis Sullivan, the Chicago highrise designer, it was the founding idea of Modernist architecture.1 The very opposite concept is Winston Churchill’s “We shape our buildings, and afterwards our buildings shape us.”2 These were clairvoyant insights, pointing in the right direction, but they stopped short.

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1981 - THE TRUE NATURE OF BUILDINGS—that they can’t hold still—is betrayed by a brick mansion on the move in Raleigh, North Carolina. The Capehart-Crocker house (1898) was moved to make room for a state government complex. The house is now used for offices.

Sullivan’s form-follows-function misled a century of architects into believing that they could really anticipate function. Churchill’s ringing and-then-they-shape-us truncated the fuller cycle of reality. First we shape our buildings, then they shape us, then we shape them again—ad infinitum. Function reforms form, perpetually.

“Flow, continual flow, continual change, continual transformation” is how a Pueblo Indian architectural historian named Rina Swentzel describes her culture and her home village.3 That describes everyone’s culture and village.

In this century the houses of America and Europe have been altered utterly. When servants disappeared from them, kitchens suddenly grew, and servant’s rooms became superfluous and were rented out. Cars came, grew in size and number, then shrank in size, and garages and car parks tried to keep pace. “Family rooms” expanded around the television. In the 1960s, women joined the work force, transforming both the workplace and the home. With shifting economic opportunities and stresses, families fragmented so much that the conventional nuclear family has become a rarity, and the design of housing is still catching up with that.

Office buildings are now the largest capital asset of developed nations and employ over half of their workforces. At the office, management theories come and go, each with a different physical layout. Unremitting revolutions in communication technology require rewiring of whole buildings every seven years on average. After the 1973 oil crisis, the energy budget of a building suddenly became a major issue, and windows, insulation, and heating and cooling systems had to be completely revamped toward energy efficiency.

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1941 - RICH TO POOR? It looks at first glance like the prospects of this Coxsackie, New York, farm have gone downhill from left to right. I suspect that’s why my old photography teacher, John Collier, took the photo for the Farm Security Administration—as an illustration of the harsh effects of the Depression. But building historian Dell Upton bets that the middle part was built first, in the 1820s. Then the fancy part was added on the left in the 1830s, and the kitchen moved into its own addition to the right in the 1850s.

BUILDINGS TELL STORIES, if they’re allowed—if their past is flaunted rather than concealed.

1990 - BLUE TO WHITE COLLAR. It was built as a valve factory in the 1930s in Emeryville, California. Now it houses 28 professional offices and live/work spaces—software designers, architects, photographers, and a magazine, The Monthly. When the factory at 1301 59th Street was gutted in 1985, a second floor was added throughout, providing 65,000 square feet total. Freight trains still rumble through several times a day, but the area has made the switch from dying-industrial to blooming-professional.

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1972 - POOR TO RICH? No, stranger than that. After young Stephen W. Dorsey was elected US Senator from Arkansas in 1874, he made a pile of money with land and cattle speculation. In the remote northeast New Mexico prairie he constructed a mansion to suit his fortune and fame. It began in 1878 with frontier-romantic logs (left) and then shifted to Gothic-romantic sandstone (right) in 1881—complete with stone portraits on the upper tower of Dorsey and his wife and brother, plus two gargoyles in the likeness of his political enemy, Senator James Blaine. Dorsey got government contracts for mail delivery which later were investigated for fraud—$2 million had been stolen. The trial ruined Dorsey, and the mansion was foreclosed in 1893. Subsequent ranch families left the place as it was. It is now a house museum, a monument to frontier chicanery.

1992 - LIKE A MOUSE IN A COW SKULL, one specialty makes a home in another specialty’s husk. Gas stations such as this one between the airport and the freeway in Albuquerque, New Mexico, are basically disposable buildings, left standing while the landlord waits for a big real estate score. Meanwhile, why not get some rent from the local karate club? It looks not bad as a dojo—lots of parking, and no neighbors to complain about the shouting.

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Asbestos went from being very good for you to very bad for you. Fire codes and building codes discovered new things to worry about, and old buildings were forced to meet the new standards. Access for the disabled transformed toilets, stairs, curbs, elevators.

Deterioration is constant, in new buildings as much as old. The roof leaks. The furnace is dying. The walls have cracks. The windows are a disgrace. People are getting sick from something in the air conditioning. The whole place is going to have to be redone!

And you can’t fix or remodel an old place in the old way. Techniques and materials keep changing. Factory-hung windows and doors are better than the old site-built ones, but they have different shapes. Sheetrock replaces plaster; steel studs replace wood. You have to have vapor barriers, plastic plumbing, plastic electrical fixtures, a dozen new forms of insulation, track lighting, task lighting, uplighting, and carpet by the acre. The extent of change can be documented in Architectural Graphic Standards, the American builder’s bible for design and construction details. It was first published in 1932. Selling in the hundreds of thousands, it was up to its eighth completely revised edition in 1988—with only part of one of its 864 pages still the same after 56 years. More than half of the 1988 edition was new or revised since the 1981 edition—seven routine years.

More is being spent on changing buildings than on building new ones. At the end of the 1980s, one of the new preservation professionals, Sally Oldham, could report formidable statistics. Home renovation in America had more than doubled during the decade. Commercial rehabilitation expenditures had gone from three-fourths of new construction to one-and-a-half times new construction. Some $200 billion (5 percent of the gross national product) was spent on renovation and rehabilitation in 1989, and historic preservation accounted for $40 billion a year of goods and services.4 Nearly all architects (96 percent) were involved in some form of rehabilitation, and a quarter of architects’ revenues came from rehab.

Buildings keep being pushed around by three irresistible forces—technology, money, and fashion. Technology offers, say, new double-pane insulated windows with a sun-reflective membrane—expensive, but they will save enormously on energy costs for the building, and you get political points for installing them. By the time their defects become intolerable, even newer windows will beckon. The march of technology is inexorable, and accelerating.

Form follows funding. If people have money to spare, they will mess with their building, at minimum to solve the current set of frustrations with the place, at maximum to show off their wealth, on the reasonable theory that money attracts money. A building is not primarily a building; it is primarily property, and as such, subject to the whims of the market. Commerce drives all before it, especially in cities. Wherever land value is measured in square feet, buildings are as fungible as cash. Cities devour buildings.

As for fashion, it is change for its own sake—a constant unbalancing of the status quo, cruelest perhaps to buildings, which would prefer to remain just as they are, heavy and obdurate, a holdout against the times. Buildings are treated by fashion as big, difficult clothing, always lagging embarrassingly behind the mode of the day. This issue has nothing to do with function: fashion is described precisely as “non-functional stylistic dynamism” in Man’s Rage for Chaos by Morse Peckham.5 And fashion is culture-wide and inescapable.

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CITIES DEVOUR BUILDINGS. In 1865 the west side of lower Broadway in New York had 261 buildings, shown here. By 1990 only 33 were still there—one in eight. The survivors are shown shaded, with thickened underline.

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1880 - BROADWAY, west side, looking south from Park Place—the view matches the left half of the third row in the illustration to the left. On the corner of Broadway and Park Place is the Berkshire Life Insurance Building (1852). The wide white building beyond is the Astor House hotel (1836), and peeking out behind it is the portico of St. Paul’s Chapel (1766).

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1974 - Same view as above. The entire block between Park Place and Barclay has become the world-famous neo-Gothic Woolworth Building (1913). Astor House was replaced by the Transportation Building (1927) and six-story Franklin Building (1914). Only St. Paul’s Chapel remains from the previous photo. The United States Steel Building (1972) towers in the background.

To say that change in buildings is nearly universal does not help much in understanding how the process works, nor in conjuring how it might go better. Could different kinds of change be contrasted? Early in the research for this book, Sim Van Der Ryn, former State Architect of California, suggested I pay attention to the three different kinds of buildings, which he thought changed in quite separate ways—commercial, domestic, and institutional.

Commercial buildings have to adapt quickly, often radically, because of intense competitive pressure to perform, and they are subject to the rapid advances that occur in any industry. Most businesses either grow or fail. If they grow, they move; if they fail, they’re gone. Turnover is a constant. Commercial buildings are forever metamorphic.

Domestic buildings—homes—are the steadiest changers, responding directly to the family’s ideas and annoyances, growth and prospects. The house and its occupants mold to each other twenty-four hours a day, and the building accumulates the record of that intimacy. That is far less the case with renters, who must ask permission from landlords and have no hope of financial gain from improvements, but two-thirds of Americans (and Britons) own their homes.

Institutional buildings act as if they were designed specifically to prevent change for the organization inside and to convey timeless reliability to everyone outside. When forced to change anyway, as they always are, they do so with expensive reluctance and all possible delay. Institutional buildings are mortified by change.

The three kinds of buildings diverge from each other deliberately. The crass seething of commerce is something that institutional buildings seek to rise above and that homes seek to escape. But most institutional buildings are just offices after all, and offices are infamously high-change environments, and so they are self-violating. Domestic buildings are a successful sanctuary only when property values are constant, which is seldom.

Each kind of building also has different internal dynamics. Buildings whose business it is to make money signal when they are failing—annual cost exceeds income—and then usage and structure keep being adjusted until there’s a fit (usually temporary). Institutional buildings house bureaucracies, which are not allowed to fail and so cannot help outgrowing their space.

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1938 - A typical brick multi-use commercial building in Lawrence, Kansas, houses a movie theater, coffee shop, bus depot, and what might be offices upstairs on the far left. The style is 1930s Hollywood.

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1979 - Forty years later, only the basic structure of the building and theater’s name are the same. The theater part appears to have been remodeled in the 1950s (probably made larger inside, since the previous windows and doors at the far left have disappeared). Lawrence, a college town, had its downtown upgraded in the 1970s. One result is the former bus depot being converted to suave professional offices.

COMMERCIAL AND DOMESTIC BUILDINGS CHANGE DIFFERENTLY—commercial more kaleidoscopically (above), domestic more steadily (below).

ca. 1900 - BUILDINGS ALWAYS GROW. Even confined on a corner lot in San Francisco (at Hyde and Lombard), the Mrs. Robert Louis Stevenson-Lloyd Osbourne house contrived ways to grow.

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ca. 1939 - Since 1900 the house has pushed out onto its upstairs deck. A garage has appeared on the left, and bay windows on the right. The tall brick chimneys no doubt were shaken down in the 1906 earthquake.

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ca. 1870 - A mint was established in San Francisco to handle the millions of dollars of gold and silver flowing from the mines of the 49ers. This architect’s drawing shows what was constructed in 1874 of Sierra granite and Columbia bluestone, with cast iron pillars and wrought iron girders. Despite the fact of having outgrown a previous mint building (1854), the officials and the architect made no provision in this building for later growth.

INSTITUTIONAL BUILDINGS DEFY CHANGE. The old US Mint in San Francisco has not changed since 1874, nor will it. It ignored an earthquake and shrugged off losing its function.

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ca. 1941 - In 1940 the whole house surged upward one and two stories. Windows multiplied. The garage became three garages. Each change was an extension or increase of what was there before, rather than a transformation.

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1906 - The 1906 earthquake and fire devastated the city around it, but iron security shutters and heroic efforts of staff protected the building and the $308 million in gold inside. The money was used to back banks that restored commerce and rebuilt San Francisco.

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1992 - In 1937 the minting activity outgrew the building and moved into a new and larger structure (even more monumental) a mile away. The Old US Mint building, physically unchanged, still part of the government, lives on as mostly a museum of itself (“See $1 million in gold”)—half the ground floor and basement. The Department of the Treasury has offices there to handle orders for commemorative coins and medals. And the massive chimneys still work for a living—the furnaces that once melted gold now heat many nearby buildings.

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1990 - A classic single house is the Thomas Legare house (circa 1759) at 90 Church Street in Charleston. Of the 5,000 18th-century and 19th-century dwellings still standing in the city, some 3,000 are single houses. The characteristic piazza (double porch) was always built on the south or west side of the house—to give protection from the summer sun, access to the winter sun, and a place to enjoy Charleston’s treasured sea breeze. The piazzas serve as outside hallways for the narrow buildings.

A FIX BECOMES A FEATURE. Add-ons often become a distinctive part of a generic building type. In early Charlestown, South Carolina, a double-story “piazza” (porch) was added on to the British-style townhouses to make them livable in the hot, humid climate. It soon became a famed vernacular—the Charleston “single house.” Similarly, cast-iron balconies added on to New Orleans buildings (often to replace rotting wood balconies) became part of that city’s character. Even flying buttresses on cathedrals were a fix that became a feature.

Turf battles become vicious; eventually some activities overflow awkwardly into nearby buildings.

Homes are the domain of slowly shifting fantasies and rapidly shifting needs. The widowed parent moves in; the teenager moves out; finances require letting out a room (new door and outside stair); accumulating stuff needs more storage (or public storage frees up some home space); a home office or studio becomes essential. Meanwhile, desires accumulate for a new deck, a hot tub, a modernized kitchen, a luxurious bathroom, a walk-in closet, a hobby refuge in the garage, a kid refuge in the basement or attic, a whole new master bedroom.

There is a universal rule—never acknowledged because its action is embarrassing or illegal. All buildings grow. Most grow even when they’re not allowed to. Urban height limits and the party walls of row houses, for instance, are no barrier. The building will grow into the back yard and down into the ground—halfway under the street in parts of Paris.

A question I asked everyone while working on this book was “What makes a building come to be loved?” A thirteen-year-old boy in Maine had the most succinct answer. “Age,” he said. Apparently the older a building gets, the more we have respect and affection for its evident maturity, for the accumulated human investment it shows, for the attractive patina it wears—muted bricks, worn stairs, colorfully stained roof, lush vines.

Age is so valued that in America it is far more often fake than real. In a pub-style bar and restaurant you find British antique oak wall paneling—perfectly replicated in high-density polyurethane. On the roof are fiber-cement shingles molded and colored to look like worn natural slate. But Europe has its own versions of fakery, now themselves respectable with age—the picturesque ersatz ruins of 18th-century landscape gardening, 19th-century buildings pretending to be medieval, neoclassical columns always bone-white instead of wearing the original Greek or Roman bright colors.

It seems there is an ideal degree of aging which is admired. Things should not be new, but neither should they be rotten with age (except in New Orleans, which fosters a cult of decay). Buildings should be just ripe—worn but still fully functional. Genuinely old buildings are constantly refreshed, but not too far, and new buildings are forced to ripen quickly. Hence the fashion in wood shingles, which weather handsomely in the course of a single winter. They are expensive and a fire hazard and will need replacing all too soon, but never mind.

The widespread fakery makes us respect honest aging all the more. The one garment in the world with the greatest and longest popularity—over a century now—is Levi’s denim blue jeans. Along with their practical durability, they show age honestly and elegantly, as successive washings fade and shrink them to perfect fit and rich texture. Ingenious techniques to simulate aging of denim come and go, but the basic indigo 501s, copper-riveted, carry on for decades. This is highly evolved design. Are there blue-jeans buildings among us? How does design honestly honor time?

We admire the grand gesture in architecture, but we respect something else. In a computer teleconference on design, Brian Eno, the British rock musician and avant-garde artist, wrote:

We are convinced by things that show internal complexity, that show the traces of an interesting evolution. Those signs tell us that we might be rewarded if we accord it our trust. An important aspect of design is the degree to which the object involves you in its own completion. Some work invites you into itself by not offering a finished, glossy, one-reading-only surface. This is what makes old buildings interesting to me. I think that humans have a taste for things that not only show that they have been through a process of evolution, but which also show they are still a part of one. They are not dead yet.

Between the dazzle of a new building and its eventual corpse, when it is either demolished or petrified for posterity as a museum, are the lost years—the unappreciated, undocumented, awkward-seeming time when it was alive to evolution. If Eno is right, those are the best years, the time when the building can engage us at our own level of complexity. How do those years work, actually?

This book attempts to answer that, or at least to frame the question in helpful detail. The argument goes as follows. Buildings are layered by different rates of change (Chapter 2—Shearing Layers). Adaptation is easiest in cheap buildings that no one cares about (3—The Low Road) and most refined in long-lasting sustained-purpose buildings (4—The High Road). Adaptation, however, is anathema to architects and to most of the building professions and trades (5—Magazine Architecture). And the gyrations of real-estate markets sever continuity in buildings (6—Unreal Estate). The building preservation movement arose in rebellion, deliberately frustrating creative architects and the free market in order to restore continuity (7—A Quiet, Populist, Conservative, Victorious Revolution). Focus on preservation brought a new focus on maintenance (8—The Romance of Maintenance), and respect for humble older buildings brought investigation of their design wisdom by vernacular building historians (9—How Buildings Learn from Each Other). The same kind of investigation can be made of the persistent change, mostly amateur, that occurs in contemporary houses and offices (10—Function Melts Form).

With that perspective backward in mind, it is possible to rethink perspective forward (11—The Scenario-Buffered Building) and to imagine designing buildings that invite adaptation (12—Built for Change). Doing it right requires an intellectual discipline that doesn’t yet exist (Appendix—The Study of Buildings in Time). The study is worth undertaking because, more than any other human artifact, buildings excel at improving with time, if they are given the chance.

And they are wonderful to study. All dressed up in layers of dissimulation, buildings are so naked.

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1 Louis Sullivan, “The Tall Building Artistically Considered,” Lippincott’s (March 1896), pp. 403-409. This much-anthologized, beautifully bombastic essay climaxes with: “It is the pervading law of all things organic, and inorganic, of all things physical and metaphysical, of all things human and all things superhuman, of all true manifestations of the head, of the heart, of the soul, that the life is recognizable in its expressions, that form ever follows function.” But when Sullivan applies the law to buildings, he adds a proviso that has been little noticed and never quoted: “Is it really then … so near a thing to us that we cannot perceive that the shape, form, outward expression, design or whatever we may choose, of the tall office building should in the very nature of things follow the functions of the building, and that where the function does not change, the form is not to change?” Mark that. “Where function does not change, form does not change.” What about when function changes?

2 Churchill liked the statement so much he used it twice, first in 1924 to an awards ceremony for the Architectural Association, then before a national audience in 1943 on the occasion of requesting that the bomb-damaged Parliament be rebuilt exactly as it was before. To the architects he said, “There is no doubt whatever about the influence of architecture and structure upon human character and action. We make our buildings and afterwards they make us. They regulate the course of our lives.” In Parliament, he restated it, “We shape our buildings, and afterwards our buildings shape us.” Both times his example was the cramped, oblong Chamber of the House of Commons. It was to the good, he insisted, that the Chamber was too small to seat all the members (so great occasions were standing-room occasions), and that its shape forced members to sit on either one side or the other, unambiguously of one party or the other. “The party system, indeed, depends on the shape of the House of Commons,” he concluded in 1924. [I am indebted to Marvin Nicely and Richard Langworth of the International Churchill Society for tracking down the quotes.]

3 Quoted by Jane Brown Gilette. “On Her Own Terms,” Historic Preservation (Nov. 1992), p. 84.

4 Sally G. Oldham, “The Business of Preservation is Bullish and Diverse.” Preservation Forum, National Trust for Historic Preservation (Winter, 1990), p. 14.

5 Morse Peckham, Man’s Rage for Chaos, (New York: Chilton, 1965). Morse holds that the edge of fashion is art, and “art is the exposure to the tensions and problems of a false world so that man may endure exposing himself to the tensions and problems of the real world.” We practice meaningless change in order to tolerate necessary change. That’s fine, but in buildings the meaningless change of fashion often obstructs necessary change.

APPENDIX: The Study of Buildings in Time

ALL OF THE BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES make sense—and make sense of each other—in the light of one unifying concept, Darwin’s theory of evolution. Something similar could unify the disciplines, professions, and trades that have to do with buildings. They could become, like biology, one organic body of knowledge and inquiry. The missing link is time.

Architectural historian Patricia Waddy prefaced her study of 17th-century Italian palazzos with the observation,

Buildings have lives in time, and those lives are intimately connected with the lives of the people who use them. Buildings come into being at particular moments and in particular circumstances. They change and perhaps grow as the lives of their users change. Eventually—when, for whatever reason, people no longer find them useful—they die. The artistry of the designers of buildings is exercised in the context of that life, as well as the context of a life that art itself may have.1

The statement suggests a deeper role for the building professions and disciplines. Architecture has trapped itself by insisting it is “the art of building.” It might be reborn if it redefined its job as “the design-science of the life of buildings.” A shift that minor could transform the way civilization manages its built environment—toward long-term responsibility and constant adaptivity.

Architects are almost ready, almost desperate enough, to make the shift. In 1993 the new president of the American Institute of Architects, Susan Maxman, declared, “The profession pays far too much attention to little gems of new buildings. If we are to survive, let alone prosper, we must fundamentally retool. We must equip ourselves with new kinds of knowledge, skills, and attitudes which will support our work as renovators.”2 She called on her profession to move toward sustainable design. In June of 1993 the largest-ever gathering of architects convened in Chicago for the eighteenth World Congress of the International Union of Architects. Its theme was “Architecture at the Crossroads: Designing for a Sustainable Future.” Sustainable is a buzzword, meaning “ecologically correct,” but it does stimulate thinking toward durability and open possibilities.

Among academic architects two other potentially useful time-honoring terms have been in occasional use—synchronic and diachronic. Linguists invented the words to describe two ways of studying the history of a language—the way it all fit together at one point in time (synchronic), or the way it developed over time (diachronic). Architectural historians adopted the same usage. Buildings of the past can be studied in terms of how they worked and interacted at one time (the preference of city planners and architects looking for design ideas), or in terms of how they evolved over time (the preference of architectural historians). A common criticism of the historians is that they should study the past the way designers study the present—synchronically, in terms of immediacy. I would make the opposite argument, that designers should study the present the way historians study the past—diachronically, in terms of change over time.

Diachronic understanding and design is already well established and at work in city planning. That success should inspire and educate the rest of architecture, says Frank Duffy: “The biggest artifact we put together, the city, is actually quite good at accommodating change. Perhaps because of its size and complexity, we have learned not to own it personally as designers and to tolerate its changes. Cities mature. Cities flex through time.” The recent crop of neotraditional town planners are comfortable with adaptive features like the revived alley and the roll curb. Alleys through the middle of residential blocks, they rediscovered, work like basements—they separate Services from Structure, and they separate formal front-of-the-house activities from faster-changing informal activities in back. Gentle roll curbs on the streets make a new curb cut unnecessary if you want to move or change a driveway.

The whole profession of city planning has been more responsive than architects to pressure from users. Following the outrages of “urban renewal” in the 1950s, neighborhood groups organized, took power politically, and hired the planners to work for them. The result is summarized in Downtown, Inc.:

Development strategies have come a long way since then: from bulldozing whole neighborhoods to practicing microsurgery; from compulsive modernization to preserving a sense of the past; from designing office and apartment complexes for isolation to creating attractions that draw the crowds; from pushing city solutions on developers to solving problems through negotiation; from raiding federal highway and renewal budgets to packaging local and private sector funds.3

City planning used to imitate architecture, and it failed because of that. If architecture now began to imitate city planning, it could learn to succeed better. The many architects who left their profession to become city planners need to come back, bring what they learned with them, and start designing buildings that flex and mature the way cities do.

The comparison of what happened in city planning versus what happened in architecture could be the beginning of a productive self-critique by the architecture profession. Students would love it. What made Architecture allergic to time? What made Architecture afraid of building users? How did style obsession and the star-architect system manage to keep redominating the profession? Get down to cases—what exactly is the performance record of buildings that won architectural awards? What is the effect of rewarding bad performance? Could vernacular design be rethought? How did architects get away with “evoking,” “referencing,” and “bowing to” local vernacular traditions instead of learning from them? What would it take for magazines like Interiors and Architectural Digest to stop drooling over luxury interior design and start investigating what makes rooms really work?

To completely reunderstand buildings would require both of the fundamental approaches to knowledge—observation and theory. I called them “Look first” and “Think first” in a seminar I led on “How Buildings Learn” for architecture students at Berkeley in 1988. On the last evening I handed out blue books and explained that there were two types of people in the world—those who deal with something new by really looking at it, devoid of preconception, versus those who prefer to form hypotheses first and then study the thing to see which ideas were right. Both are honorable and productive. With “Look first,” new perception changes understanding. With “Think first,” new understanding changes perception.

I asked the students to identify their preference and join with others of their kind on one side or the other of the room. The exercise for the two groups was to write in their blue books the insights that might be found in a series of photos I unveiled—a sequence of color snapshots I had made of the class at the beginning of each of our nine sessions. The Look-firsters had to study the photographs immediately, while the Think-firsters stayed in their seats writing down what they thought they might find in the pictures. Then the Look-firsters would sit down to write their reports while the Think-firsters finally got a look at the data. After both groups had written up their insights, they swapped blue books and wrote comments on each other’s reports.

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	19 January 1988 - CLASS SNAPSHOTS. For no good reason other than random curiosity about photographs in sequence, at every meeting of my seminar on “How Buildings Learn” I took pictures of the students at the begining of the class. This was the first meeting.
	1 March 1988 - At the last meeting of the seminar (partially shown here), I asked the students to analyze the sequence of photos of the group. One student, who took the theoretical rather than observational approach, wondered why the women in the class wound up clumped by the door on the right.

Much giggling broke out at that point, most of it from Thinkers reading the reports of Lookers, because Looker observations were so original they were comical. “Every chair has its desk on the right side, and the pattern of people in the photographs is like a grove of trees in a strong wind—everyone is leaning toward their right.” “There are the least crossed legs in the first and last class.” But the Thinkers had more to write, and there was more follow-through in their method. One, who had hypothesized that “Over time, people will sit closer together and more to the front,” wrote gleefully, “Wrong! People move away from the front over time.” She went on to theorize, “It may be that proximity is no longer felt necessary to support the group process. People grow to trust the interaction.” She inquired further, “Why did the women end up near the door and the men on the other side of the room? Clumping by sex?”

How Buildings Learn is an example of the Think-first approach (lacking exactly the originality and new directions that Looking-first could generate). It speaks mainly to theory—to moving architecture toward operational strategy, away from stylistic interpretation, and toward immersion in the previously ignored effects and use of time. The shift from studying what buildings are toward what they do is fundamental, but the industry can gain greatly by it, at modest cost. As corporate strategists point out, “A world-class researcher costs one-half a lawyer.”

Still, theories mislead as much as they lead. An MIT teacher in animal physiology drilled into his students, “The animal is always right. When in doubt, ask the animal.” Look-first analysts of the effects of time on architecture have an excellent tool for “asking the animal” in the prodigious amount of photo documentation of buildings that exists, dating back to the 1860s. Even the most romantic researcher of buildings, John Ruskin, was impressed: “Among all the mechanical poison that this terrible 19th century has poured upon men, it has given us at any rate one antidote, the Daguerreotype.”4 Sequential rephotography of buildings already fills a considerable collection of little-noticed books.5 But they were created haphazardly as hobbies; the practice could be far more systematic and revealing.

The small amount of rephotography I did for this book demonstrated how much fun it is. To step into the exact point of view of an old photograph is to step into a time machine. While I was happily perusing thousands of old pictures in various archives, I gradually learned what makes photographs most usable for sequential study. A building exterior photo shows the most clarity and unshadowed detail if shot in hazy or overcast weather, preferably in a season when foliage doesn’t hide half the building. Vehicles or people in the frame instantly announce the era of the photograph, because everyone can intuitively date styles in clothing and vehicles. It is helpful when photos show-more than just the building itself, since often it is change or lack of change in relation to the setting that is most interesting. Since detail is everything, the larger-format the camera, the better. To my shame I did all my rephotography with a 35mm camera, though at least it had a shift lens to make vertical lines parallel and keep buildings from looking distorted.

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August 1888 - SUMMER VEGETATION hides much of the detail of the Fairbanks House in Dedham, Massachusetts (see the series of photos on p. 121). Plantings around buildings are often photographed in fullest bloom because the dwellers or owners want to show off how nice they look.

Interior photographs are all too rare, which is a nuisance since that is where the most change occurs. Particularly rare are photos of the really hard working, rapidly changing rooms—kitchens and bathrooms. Rarest of all are pictures of the undefined spaces—basements, attics, garages, and storerooms. Interior photographs taken with available light best give the feeling of the place, but flash photos have a lot more detail. When I could, I shot both. People in interior shots can be distracting (because they are so interesting), but if the picture is taken informally, they help show how the space is being used. Interiors change so rapidly that to be useful for analysis, sequences need to be shot every few months or weeks, or even hours. For that sort of project I found it helpful to put a mark on the floor so that later photos could be taken from exactly the same angle, which aids comparison.

All photos of buildings should have the date of exposure penciled on the back of the print. For that matter, all photos of anything or anybody should have a date on them. Photographs are evidence, memories, history—peerless records of how something actually was. Precise dates multiply their value.

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Winter 1888 - The same building in bleak winter reveals a great deal more—window detail, the poor state of repair, sagging of the shed addition at center-left, even the extent to which the massive central chimney appears to be holding up the whole house.

There is a shocking lack of data about how buildings actually behave. We simply don’t have the numbers. To ever get beyond the anecdotal level—typified by this book—will take serious statistical analysis over a significant depth of time and an adventurous range of building types. Frank Duffy berated a conference of facilities managers, “What we do in the way of systematic measurement of building performance is a tiny drop in a sea of ignorance and indifference. Sloppiness is everywhere. Our results are too private. We measure what is easy to measure and ignore what is difficult. Real issues such as the use of space through time, productivity, and environmental responsibility thus tend to get ignored. Given the chance, facilities managers will retreat into the tiny box from whence they came—into neatness, housekeeping and a quiet life.”6

There’s no reason to rely only on professionals. This is not astrophysics; everybody is an expert on buildings. Amateur birdwatchers in their legions have profoundly influenced ornithology, population biology, and environmental politics.

TIME ANALYSIS of buildings on the scale of decades and centuries is well established in Europe, as in this survey of a 17th-century Gloucestershire farm building. Similar studies could be made of contemporary buildings on a time scale of days, months, and years. Patterns and paces in moving furniture, for example, might suggest what people really would like parts of buildings to do.

Maybe amateur building watchers could do the same for the yet-unnamed science of building behavior.

The need is to study all kinds of buildings and all kinds of uses, not just the prestige ones or the high-revenue ones. The point is both objective—knowledge for its own sake in an area of shocking ignorance—and subjective. Our buildings are such disasters that we need detailed evaluation and rethinking at every scale. We need failure analysis that is systemic over the full scope of building-related activities and the entire life of buildings. When we investigate a building that is loved or loathed, it is not a question of praising or blaming the designer or owner but of teasing apart the whole tangle of relationships that make the building work or not. All buildings have problems, but only some correct the problems. What is the systemic breakdown that leaves a problem unnoticed? Or if noticed, unreported? Or if reported, unacted on? Or if acted on, unsolved?

Without that kind of corrective feedback a building can’t thrive. Neither can the building professions and trades. A skilled carpenter told me, “I do things better now that I’m older. Why? Because I’ve spent so much time fixing the things that I did when I was younger.”

The research needs academic rigor, but not academic irrelevance. A utilitarian bias should color the collection of information, the testing of ideas that emerge, and the transmitting of the ideas that work. For that reason it’s worth taking a purposeful look at how knowledge transmission has worked in the past—how do buildings learn from each other? Cross-cultural study could lend perspective and also be a fount of ideas. I’m acutely aware that a book like this one would be radically different if it expressed European or Asian experience—and what a joy that would be to research.

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1977 - Buildings sleuths, some of them amateurs and hobbyists, love to reconstruct the sequence of changes in venerable buildings. What might they accomplish if set loose on contemporary change in contemporary buildings? This drawing (one of four pages) is by Patricia Borne.

By considering buildings whole, university architecture departments could reverse their trend toward senescence. They could invigorate the faculty with an infusion of facilities managers, preservationists, interior designers, developers, project managers, engineers, contractors, construction lawyers, and insurance mongers. The departments could promote some of the marginalized people they already have—building economists, vernacular building historians, and post-occupancy evaluators. In that enriched context, what’s left of art-oriented architecture would have all that its creativity could handle exploring new syntheses of the flood of data and ideas.

For such research to prosper at either the academic or the grassroots level, data has to cohere to buildings. We need to switch from the hotel-room aesthetic to the mountain-hut aesthetic about the accumulation of information. A hotel room is constantly scoured of any trace of previous use and is presented daily as if brand-new. Mountain huts are exuberant museums of their own past, with each hiker adding comments to the guest book, initials and dates to the woodwork, and food to the larder. What if every commercial building had an on-site journal and maintenance log, which the landlord could not legally remove or amend? What if city halls provided a repository for the full records of every house in town—not just the legal and title records, but photos and memorabilia voluntarily left by successive generations of tenants.7 (I know from my research for this book that photo archives in libraries are incomparably more usable when organized by building or street address rather than by date of acquisition or name of collection.)

There are so many questions worth exploring. What are the oldest buildings in various cities that still command high rents? What made that happen? What kinds of buildings were torn down, and why? What is the distribution of building types in a city, and how does their longevity sort out? How about in small towns? What is the real distribution of design approaches—how many buildings are specially architected, versus franchise cookie-cutter, versus developer assembly-line, versus vernacular?

A prime opportunity for comparative study would be the uniform arrays of buildings all constructed at once, such as in the original Levittowns. What was the pace and range and process of their subsequent divergence? Architects like to think that upscale suburban developments like Greenbelt and Hollin Hills near Washington haven’t changed much since they were built, and that’s supposed to be a measure of their success. Is that true, or is the rapid change in the humble Levittowns an indication of the owners taking charge of the buildings and gaining greater satisfaction than the more passive tenants of Greenbelt? Which was the better investment?

What would an architecture student learn from accompanying a remodeling contractor through a series of jobs? How about following a building inspector around for a few weeks? Is there pattern to the realities they encounter? How does it match with the conventional wisdom taught in school?

What might be learned from highly detailed longitudinal studies of buildings in use? What changes from hour to hour, day to day, week to week, month to month, year to year, and over decades? This kind of study is the norm in ecology and some of the social sciences; there’s no lack of lore about how to do it.

It would be interesting to investigate what happens with sequences of buildings that might be learning from experience. Dozens of Hyatt Regency hotels have been built around their trademark cavernous atriums. Are the later ones improvements on the originals? Did the originals later get adjusted to take advantage of what proved effective in the later ones? How is that body of experience expressed to the designers?

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December 1988 - After two years in business, Phelan’s was still in its original one big room, with mail order shipping on the far left, mailing on the far right, and customer service (taking phone orders) on the near right. This series of photos is the reverse view of what’s on pp. 30–31.

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21 March 1991 - Two-plus years later, the customer service area was wholly different. It had all-new furniture and filled the foreground. Since the adjoining bay behind the door had been taken over, the former hall into it had become a dressing room for customers, a bathroom door was added on its right, and a door on the left had been built and then closed up.

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21 June 1991 - Three months later (I was taking monthly photos from 22 locations in Phelan’s, always at 2:30 pm), the desks in the right foreground had shifted around, and the printer on the far left acquired a cover. The display shelves formerly next to it had been replaced by a clothes rack for a summer sale. (The showroom of products for walk-in customers had grown from the distant right to include the area around the dressing room.)

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23 August 1991 - Two months later, the clothes rack had gone, and the desks for customer service had retreated to the right. Partly they were pushed back by the intense traffic in the area—customers coming from the right, plus the growing number of staff walking from new space to the left and from upstairs behind the camera to use the company’s only bathroom (center, dark). Also some customer service people had moved into new space elsewhere in the building.

MONTHLY PHOTO-STUDY of a high-volatility work environment revealed patterns of furniture migration and shifts of workgroup boundaries. Constant change was both necessary and easy for Phelan’s—an equestrian mail order catalog in Sausalito, California. Necessary because it was growing from $0.5 million/year revenues to $3 million in two years. Easy because it had cheap recycled furniture in cheap, roomy Low-Road space (a leftover World War II shipyard building).

Judging by these photos, office workers like to move their furniture much more than they’re allowed to in most work environments where the space plan and management are too restrictive, or the furniture is too heavy. Constant, searching micro-adjustment is both empowering and adaptive. The boundary of a workgroup will flex back and forth between local and organization-wide needs.

25 September 1991 - One month later, the display shelves were back. And customer service desks on the right were beginning to encroach back out into thoroughfare space—each person on the phone was trying to get away from others so they could hear better.

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13 November 1991 - Two months later, the printer has been replaced by a dog (food and water dishes, plus rug)—two burglaries had encouraged the adoption of a German shepherd for security. The new desk and dividers on the right came almost free from a software company that had moved.

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21 March 1992 - Four months later, the pace of change had slowed. The nation was in a recession, and Phelan’s had stopped growth for better profitability. The customer service desks continued to encroach outward.

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22 October 1992 - Seven months later, the dog had acquired a cushy mattress and her own dividers. Approaching the peak season of Christmas orders, management required that there be a centralized workspace (center right) for all customer service “problems”—back orders, call-backs, returns, etc. Display shelves and a tall divider protected the privacy of the work surface—the very same piece of furniture that occupied that space four years before in 1988.

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Conversely, what keeps proven good new ideas from being widely utilized? What are the mechanics of blind conservatism? (And what are the advantages of blind conservatism?)

Another non-event worth scrutiny is buildings that don’t change. Is it because they’re perfect as is, or revered as monuments, or administered from too great a distance or through too many layers of bureaucracy, or is it that the occupants are old and set in their ways, or they can’t afford change, or the material is physically impossible to alter, or what?

What are the usages that nourish buildings? And which ones destroy buildings? And which preserve them intact for revival later?

Suppose the kind of close study expended on shopping malls were applied to a couple of barrios. What does their rampant improvisation have to teach formal design? What does their responsible illegality suggest about amending property laws?8

Ships are the best-documented large structures in existence. Might they be studied simply as buildings? Could some of their high-density design and rigorous servicing discipline be transferred to ordinary buildings?

This book and others are full of unsupported hypotheses that would not be hard to prove or disprove. Are Modernist buildings that are designed “inside-out” really less adaptive than more traditional buildings designed “outside-in”? Find a few classics of each type and compare their histories. Does greater adaptivity go along with greater maintenance, or the opposite? Watch some low-maintenance and some high-maintenance buildings and see what happens.

How important is local control? An intriguing project would be to design some houses and small commercial buildings specifically to be serviced and maintained by their users. Only amateur skills would be required, and everything that needed work would be self-obvious. No outside expertise or special materials necessary. Maybe this is the secret of high longevity at low cost—like the Volkswagen beetle.

Architects talk about “daylighting as formgiver” and “sunlighting as formgiver.” What kind of buildings might reflect “time as formgiver”? If my adaptation of Frank Duffy’s layering of buildings into Site-Structure-Skin-Services-Space-plan-and-Stuff is correct, how might building design better acknowledge and take advantage of that? All buildings grow, but some grow more outward and some more inward. What are the different advantages of the two paths, and how might initial design serve them best? Since vernacular buildings seem to show exceptional hardihood over time, could there be a subdiscipline of applied vernacular studies that would inform the cutting edge of design theory?

Then there’s social context. What happened in Britain and America that made building preservation suddenly an irresistible force? What might make that transition happen in the city-trashing go-go economies of Southeast Asia? (Singapore, which adopted preservation almost overnight, would be an illuminating study.) How is the nature of human organization changing, and how are buildings reflecting that? A history of the office in this century would reveal a great deal. So would a history of the family.9

All of these are pieces of a larger question: how does procedure learn? How do organizations adapt; how does design improve; how do strategies become robust? What differentiates that kind of self-improvement from mere succession? Some theorists say that any entity that learns must have a model of itself that can store past lessons and make future conjectures, but others say that’s not necessary or may even cripple the immediacy of real learning. Who’s right? Surely there’s a whole taxonomy of subspecies of learning worth differentiating—unconscious learning, accelerated learning, wrong learning (superstition), goal-directed learning, aversive learning, situated learning, pseudolearning, creative forgetting. Organizational learning has been dissected by theorists Gregory Bateson and Chris Argyris into three levels: adjustment to a norm, change of the norm, and change of change. (This is seen in the pedagogic sequence of learning a language, learning languages, and learning to learn languages and hence anything.) Might that layering be reflected in a building designed for multilevel adaptivity? Maybe that’s what Architecture Department buildings should be designed to handle—triple-level learning.

Since every building is expected to reach out thirty to one hundred years into the future, it’s astonishing that the building industry doesn’t do extensive futures research. Perhaps it’s a paradoxical effect of the acceleration of change in our lifetimes. The very compression of events that makes futures study more necessary makes us more ahistorical in our outlook. We’re too immersed in the onrush of change (no one calls it progress these days, interestingly) to do much looking backward or forward, and so we put ourselves at the mercy of events, repeatedly surprised and baffled. Buildings might help us out of that impasse. Their material persistence steadies us. Embodying the past, they invite us to think seriously and confidently about the future.

What, for example, might architectural futures-study focus on in the mid-1990s?

Some of the future is already in the pipeline—inevitable unless there’s an asteroid collision. The most certain and influential of these is age distribution in the population. While the developing world (formerly called Third World) is getting radically younger, the developed world is getting markedly older. Older people prefer familiar buildings, especially in a time of disconcerting change, and they can overwhelm youth’s desire for something new by the sheer weight of their numbers and wealth. Older people hold on to their houses and change them to suit themselves, rather than trading up as they did when they were younger. The very advances in technology that make society conservative about buildings also make it technically easier to preserve old buildings and to update their services in subtle ways. And accommodating the disabled has proved, as it often does, to be prescient for the society as a whole. Wheelchair ramps and low-piled carpets, roomy bathrooms and lever-handled doors are a convenience for all of us as we slow down.

At the same time, formerly youthful environmentalists have come into power in business and government and are converting what used to be the shrill demands of outsiders into the law of the land. Health-conscious oldsters are supporting them. Buildings will be ever more stringently regulated in terms of their air quality, electromagnetic radiation, safety, energy use, and other issues yet to be identified.

Futurists always include technology as one of the driving forces in the future of nearly everything, from archaeology (DNA reconstitution) to literature (multimedia). What technologies will drive building construction and reconstruction? William Morris declared in 1892, “The subject of Material is clearly the foundation of architecture.” These days architecture has no need to be innovative in materials science, since it can so easily borrow. One observer notes,

Sir Norman Foster is well known for his ingenious early use of components and materials that have their origin in industries far removed from construction: solvent-welded PVC roofing derived from swimming pool liners, gaskets of neoprene developed originally for cable-jacketing, structural glazing and glass fritting from the auto industry, superplastic aluminum and metalized fabrics from aerospace. Even Foster’s presentation-drawing techniques are culled from aviation magazines.10

Factory manufacture has increased the use of synthetic materials and has brought high quality, low price, and a surprising degree of customization of components with it, A trade magazine reports that the use of plastics in construction is growing by 5 to 6 percent a year, reaching 43 pounds per thousand dollars of construction in 1989, having doubled in seven years.11 Plastic is used in everything from planklike Durawood (made from recycled plastic containers) to soft bathtubs and flexible granite (no kidding; eighth-inch-thick granite-and-polymer veneer can be heat-formed to a fourteen-inch radius).

Such composite materials come from a long tradition. Renowned classical Roman buildings were made of concrete. Plywood furniture is found in ancient Egyptian tombs. Many a centuries-old decorative ornament in Europe is made of “composition”—animal-hide glue, burnt sienna, oil, whiting, and water. Modern ornamental materials include polyester, polyurethane foam, and fiberglass-reinforced gypsum. Fiberglass-reinforced concretes and polyesters are strong enough to imitate all sorts of traditional structural materials, and the drive for their innovation, ironically, has come from the boom in building preservation. The substitutes are lighter, cheaper, and easier to install than the decayed stone, plaster, or carved wood they replace, and they look exactly the same. The entire marble portico of an 1899 mansion in Lenox, Massachusetts, has been recreated, down to the last curlicue, out of fiberglass-reinforced polyester. A product called Cathedral Stone can be molded by hand to duplicate ancient masonry. Come back a week later when it’s cured and you need a hammer and chisel. A little instant aging with muriatic acid makes it look just like the real stone next to it.

What are we to make of all this apparent fraudulence? As a boat lover I remember when fiberglass boats first came along in the 1950s, and everyone said they would never work, never sell, never last. Wrong on every count. Fiberglass boats are lighter and stronger than wood, more intricately shaped, and they endure negligent owners, which wood cannot, because they are immune to teredo worms, dry rot, and baking sun. Fiberglass never leaks; wood always does, top and bottom. And yet a magazine called Woodenboat, founded in 1969, became one of the all-time publishing successes through worshipping the virtues of wood in boats. Those virtues consist entirely of the aesthetics of tradition and the discipline of managing a short-lived material. I have owned and sold an excellent plastic boat and owned and kept a troublesome wooden boat. Why? The wood feels better, and I can fiddle with it. But if I really had to sail somewhere, I’d get fiberglass or steel.

I think that’s what is happening with buildings. The ones that have to sail somewhere will be made of advanced materials. The ones that can be appreciated for the luxury and cost of touchable aesthetics (or whose labor costs are irrelevant) will stick with traditional materials. And most of the advanced stuff will ever more convincingly, and ironically, imitate the traditional, leading civilization into what Umberto Eco calls “hyperreality”—the realm of the exaggerated, proud, absolute fake.

Everyone expects electronic technology to transform building use. It already has, several times, but there are lots of false starts. The “intelligent buildings” fiasco of the early 1980s will probably be repeated in what the National Association of Home Builders wants to call “Smart Houses.” This highly centralized, highly integrated, wire-based, skill-intensive approach attempts to install utter convenience and is more likely to install utter frustration. There is a standards battle going on between competing systems. People will be as baffled trying to program their house as they were trying to program the early video cassette players. I think that integrated electronics is indeed coming to the home, but by way of simple-minded wireless hobbyist devices, easy to buy one by one, easy to move around, easy to adjust to each other. Amateur house-hackers will have the garage door, the motion sensors, the phone, and the coffee maker all talking to one another by radio waves.12

A deeper revolution is evident in the title of a technical magazine founded in 1991, the Journal of Intelligent Material Systems and Structure. Self-sensing and self-healing materials are on the way. A researcher named Carolyn Dry, impatient with standard concrete (“brittle, porous and very dumb”), has developed a concrete laced with two kinds of fiber—one that detects when the steel reinforcing bar is corroding and releases an anti-corrosion chemical, and another that notices cracks and fills them with glue.13

The parallel advances of biotechnology and nanotechnology (molecular engineering) are bound to infect materials with either biological or nanocomputerized sensitivity in the coming decades. “Biobuildings” or “cognitive buildings” could brighten real-estate hopes for premium rents. Computerized weapons systems, these years, are graded by their designers in ascending order as: dumb, smart, brilliant, and moral. Materials systems will no doubt climb the same curve, and we can contemplate the coming of moral plastic.14 In that case there will be added to the Low Road and the High Road an exquisitely tunable High Tech Road. It will be obvious how those buildings learn. They learn by paying attention.

But how might such buildings avoid making civilization even more pathologically ahistorical than it is? At times our era seems to enact Dante’s warning, “Without hope we live in desire.” Could our artifacts embrace enough future with enough liveliness to embody and radiate hope? Ruskin’s plea was, “When we build, let us think that we build forever. Let it not be for present delight, nor for present use alone; let it be such work as our descendants will thank us for.”15 How exactly do good ancestors design?

Here’s an exercise. Computer scientist Danny Hillis has proposed the making of “a large (think Stonehenge) mechanical clock, powered by seasonal temperature changes. It ticks once a year, bongs once a century, and the cuckoo comes out every millennium.” The point is to have a charismatic object that helps people think long-term. No doubt a monastery of sorts should take care of the clock and its visitors, and also attend to other civilizational errands that operate at its pace. What kind of building would serve? No monuments, please. The design problem is to start a building which knows about centuries yet adeptly meets the needs and employs the tools of decades.

Time cures. In Tennyson’s poem Sir Bedivere is mourning the passing of the Round Table, and the dying Arthur reassures him, “The old order changeth, yielding place to new,/ And God fulfills himself in many ways,/ Lest one good custom should corrupt the world.” Instant-gratification, universal-standard buildings are corrupting. What is called for is the slow moral plastic of the “many ways” diverging, exploring, insidiously improving. Instead of discounting time, we can embrace and exploit time’s depth. Evolutionary design is healthier than visionary design.

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1868 - Near Virginia City in Nevada was the world’s largest quartz mill, the Gould & Curry Silver Mining Company Reduction Works. In 1868 the silver was already playing out in the Comstock Lode. This photo was made by Timothy O’Sullivan for the US Geological Survey.

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1979 - Mark Klett rephotographed the identical view a century later (note stones in lower left of each photo) for Second View—reviewed on p. 229.

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1 Patricia Waddy, Seventeenth Century Roman Palaces (Cambridge: MIT, 1990), p. xi.

2 Quoted in Nancy Levinson, “Renovation Scorecard,” Architectural Record (Jan. 1993), p. 73.

3 Bernard J. Frieden and Lynne B. Sagalyn, Downtown, Inc., (Cambridge: MIT, 1989), p. 315. See Recommended Bibliography.

4 Wolfgang Kemp, The Desire of My Eyes (New York: Farrar, Straus, Giroux, 1990), p. 158.

5 Some of the best are evaluated in the Recommended Bibliography.

6 Francis Duffy, “Measuring Building Performance.” Facilities (May 1990).

7 Boston architect Bill Rawn commented on this point: “The Boston Public Library became the depository for all buildings plans submitted to the city. It is an extraordinary resource for anyone planning to change any building. It confirms everything you’ve said in the record-keeping realm.”

8 In Peru’s barrios, writes Hernando de Soto approvingly, “First, the informals occupy the land, then they build on it, next they install infrastructure, and only at the end do they acquire ownership. This is exactly the reverse of what happens in the formal world, which is why such settlements evolve differently from traditional urban areas and give the impression of being permanently under construction.” Hernando de Soto, The Other Path (New York: Harper & Row, 1989), p. 17.

9 A jolting view of the present is in Sherry Ahrentzen, New Households, New Housing (New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1989). “The fastest growing household type is the single person living alone; persons living alone comprise 24 percent of all households. Single-parent families account for 12 percent. America’s 86.8 million households are still dominated by the 50.3 million families maintained by married couples. Yet even within the conjugal family, lifestyle changes have occurred. Over 60 percent of married women with dependent children are in the paid labor force, compared to 18 percent in 1950. Nearly 53 percent of married women with children under 6 years of age are employed. Only 10 percent of households consist of an employed father, a homemaker mother, and children younger than 18.”

10 Martin Pawley, “The Case for Uncreative Architecture,” Architectural Record (Dec. 1992), p. 20.

11 Marylee MacDonald, The Journal of Light Construction (July 1990), p. 16.

12 One electronic device I can’t wait for is “active noise control”—computerized noisemakers that duplicate a routine source of noise and rebroadcast the sound 180° out of phase with the original and thus effectively silence it. They cancel the din at the point of origin or at your ear, whichever is more convenient.

13 Science (17 Jan. 1992), p. 284.

14 With the passing of the Cold War, the vast defense industry is under pressure from government to swerve its technology toward what is called “dual use.” Meaning: figure out some civilian applications or go out of business. Defense contractors are making calls on architects to push “smart materials.”

15 John Ruskin, The Seven Lamps of Architecture (New York: Dover, 1849, 1880, 1989), p. 186.

1 Stewart Brand, The Media Lab (New York: Viking Penguin, 1987).

2 The saga of the problem-filled creation of the building is told in Artists and Architects Collaborate: Designing the Wiesner Building (Cambridge: MIT Committee on the Visual Arts, 1985).

3 C Thomas Mitchell, Redefining Designing (New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1993), p. 30.

4 The best source on this history is Andrew Saint, The Image of the Architect (New Haven and London: Yale, 1983). See Recommended Bibliography.

5 Henry Glassie, “Folk Art,” in Material Culture Studies in America (Nashville, TN: Am. Assoc. for State and Local History, 1982) ed. Thomas J. Schlereth, p. 126.

A standard line among potters is: “If it holds water, it’s craft. If it leaks, it’s art.”

6 “Long life, loose fit, low energy,” was an all-too-briefly popular mantra introduced in 1972 by British architect Alex Gordon. The energy crisis of 1973 proved him prescient.

7 Robert Venturi, et al., Learning from Las Vegas: The Forgotten Symbolism of Architectural Form (Cambridge: MIT Press, 1972, 1977).

8 Michael Benedikt, For an Architecture of Reality (New York: Lumen, 1987), p. 14.

9 Francis Duffy, The Changing Workplace (London: Phaidon, 1992), p. 232.

10 Franklin Becker, The Total Workplace (New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1990), pp. 25, 125. (See Recommended Bibliography.) Also: Patrick Hannay, “A Tale of Two Architectures,” Architects’ Journal (29 Oct. 1986), pp. 29-40. Also: Mira Bar Hillel, “Offices That Are Just Too Clever By Half,” London Sunday Telegraph (7 Oct. 1990).

11 Judith Donahue, “Fixing Fallingwater’s Flaws,” Architecture (Nov., 1989), p. 100. Someone should have replied to Wright, “That’s how you can tell it’s a failure.”

12 Frank Lloyd Wright: Writings and Buildings, Edgar Kaufmann and Ben Raeburn, eds., (New York: Meridian, 1960), p. 90.

13 Above title, p. 289.

14 George Oakes in Lloyd Kahn’s Refried Domes, p. 1, (1989; $7 postpaid from Shelter Publications, P.O. Box 279, Bolinas, CA 94924). Lloyd Kahn’s enthusiastic earlier book, Domebook II (1972), sold 175,000 copies. By the late 1970s, his grim experience with domes converted him from a proponent and builder to a critic. He tore down his own dome home and replaced it with a conventional structure.

15 Still in print. Orson Fowler, The Octagon House: A Home for All (New York: Dover, 1853, 1973).

16 Refried Domes, p. 7.

17 A bracing read for American and European professionals is: Sidney Levy, Japanese Construction (New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1990). The Economist reports, “In Japan it is common for the architect’s drawings to be altered radically on the building site. All such sites have field offices, known as genba, where architects and builders work together. This helps them to collaborate on the unforeseen problem of detail, the sudden glitch.” “That Certain Japanese Lightness,” The Economist (22 Aug. 1992), p. 75.

18 Joel Garreau, Edge City (New York: Doubleday, 1991), p. 326. See Recommended Bibliography.

19 Robert Venturi et al., Learning From Las Vegas (Cambridge: MIT, 1972), p. 106. Quoted in C Thomas Mitchell, Redefining Designing (New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1993), p. 17.

20 Deborah Devonshire, The Estate (London: Macmillan, 1990), p. 149.

21 Sim Van der Ryn and Murray Silverstein, Dorms at Berkeley (Berkeley: UC Center for Planning and Research, 1967).

22 Elena Marcheso Moreno, “The Many Uses of Postoccupancy Evaluation,” Architecture (Apr. 1989), pp. 119-121.

23 The Occupier’s View: Business Space in the ‘90s. This 1990 study is the best public, general-purpose POE I have seen, rare and priceless (if pricy). Done by a surveyors’ (real estate) firm called Vail Williams, it costs £50 from Vail Williams, 43 High Street, Fareham, Hampshire, PO16 7BQ, England. See Recommended Bibliography.

24 Preiser, Rabinowitz, and White, Post-Occupancy Evaluation (New York, Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1988), p. 28. Architects are increasingly regarded as out-of-it tyrants. “Large organisations are now convinced of [the] link between adaptability and survival, often preferring to commission new buildings with a project manager rather than an architect in charge. In the traditional, vertical design team, the services and structural engineers have no real chance of equality with the generalist architect. The operational stakes are now-acknowledged by the more sophisticated companies to be too high to allow non-specialists in these areas to take overall control.” Steelcase Stafor, The Responsive Office (Streatley-on-Thames: Polymath, 1990), p. 73.

25 Judith Blau, Architects and Firms (Cambridge: MIT, 1984), cited in Dana Cuff, “Fragmented Dreams, Flexible Practices,” Architecture (May 1992), p. 80.

26 B. J. Novitski, “Roofing Systems Software,” Architecture (Feb. 1992), p. 102.

27 Francis Duffy, “Measuring Building Performance,” Facilities (May 1990), p. 17.

28 Fred Stitt, Designing Buildings That Work (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1985), p. 107

29 The very least preferred was, “Apply knowledge of seismic construction.” The next-to-last pursued competency was, “Perform post-occupancy evaluations.” Joseph Bilello and Cynthia Woodward. “Results of AIA Learning Survey,” Architecture (Sept. 1992), p. 100. The magazine had no comment on these findings.

30 An impressive example of this kind of reporting is Environmental Building News (bimonthly. $60/year from: EBN, RR1 Box 161, Brattleboro VT 05301).

31 Herman Hertzberger, Lessons for Students in Architecture (Rotterdam: Utgeverij 010, 1991), p. 148.

32 Sir Richard Rogers, “The Artist and the Scientist.” in Bridging the Gap (New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1991), p. 146.

1 Henry Glassie, “Vernacular Architecture and Society,” Vernacular Architecture: Ethnoscapes: Vol. 4, Mete Turan, ed., p. 274. This is exactly the point that Christopher Alexander makes in The Timeless Way and A Pattern Language.

2 Henry Glassie, Pattern in the Material Folk Culture of the Eastern United States (Philadelphia: Univ. of Pennsylvania, 1968), p. 33.

3 Ivan Illich, In the Mirror of the Past (London, New York: Marion Boyars, 1992), p. 56.

4 Dell Upton introducing Thomas Hubka, “Just Folks Designing,” Common Places, Dell Upton, John Michael Vlach, eds. (Austin, GA: Univ. of Georgia, 1986), p. 426.

5 Title above, pp. 431 and 433.

6 A full exploration of the whale houses of Siasconset is given in Henry Chandlee Forman, Early Nantucket and Its Whale Houses (Nantucket: Mill Hill, 1966). See Recommended Bibliography.

The story of New England connected farms and the commercial theory that shaped them is told with style and authority in Thomas Hubka, Big House, Little House, Back House, Barn (Hanover: Univ. Press of New England, 1984). See Recommended Bibliography.

7 The best book that I’ve seen on any indigenous architecture is Lim Jee Yuan, The Malay House (Pulau Pinang: Institut Masyarakat, 1987). See Recommended Bibliography.

8 Interview with Jane Holtz Kay reprinted from the New York Times in the San Francisco Chronicle (21 Sept. 1989). J. B. Jackson’s influential books include The Necessity for Ruins (Amherst: Univ. of Mass., 1980) and Discovering the Vernacular Landscape (New Haven: Yale Univ., 1984).

9 Clem Labine, “Please Pass the Civitas,” Traditional Builder (Dec. 1990), p. 4.

10 Daniel Boorstin, The Americans: The Democratic Experience (New York: Random, 1973), p. 350. He has a whole chapter on “The Palaces of the Public” in The Americans: The National Experience (New York: Random, 1965), p. 137.

11 Brendan Gill, Architecture Digest (May 1991), p. 27.

12 A counter-argument could be made that the eighteen volumes of Sweet’s General Building and Renovation Catalog File offer way too many products—21,000 pages of stuff from 2,300 manufacturers in 1992, and growing—and they are always too new for any knowledge to accumulate about whether they work or not. This is the opposite of choice-narrowing vernacular design, which knows a few things very well and clings to them.

13 I am indebted, in my bare-bones account of the generation of Santa Fe style, to discussion with Chris Wilson, a cultural historian at the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque. His forthcoming book. The Myth of Santa Fe: Tourism, Ethnic Identity, and the Creation of a Modern Regional Tradition (Albuquerque: Univ. of New Mexico), will be a landmark study of the commercialization of vernacular form. A preview may be found in his paper, “New Mexico in the Tradition of Romantic Reaction,” Pueblo Style and Regional Architecture, Nicholas Markovich, et al., eds. (New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1990), pp. 175-194.

14 For a detailed analysis of the Anglo/Spanish hybridization see Christopher Wilson, “When a Room Is the Hall,” Mass (Summer 1984), pp. 17-23. Good illustration of the Anglo/Spanish intersection is in Bainbridge Bunting, Of Earth and Timbers Made (Albuquerque: Univ. of New Mexico, 1974).

15 Real adobe currently costs about 40 percent more than other forms of structure because it is so labor-intensive. The saying is, “You have to be very rich or very poor to build with adobe in Santa Fe.” Adobe has one advantage in being absurdly easy to demolish: just let the rain get at it.

16 John Gaw Meem, “Old Forms for New Buildings,” American Architect (145: 2627; 1934), pp. 10-21; cited in Christopher Wilson, “New Mexico in the Tradition of Romantic Reaction,” Pueblo Style and Regional Architecture, Nicholas Markovich, et al., eds. (New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1990), p. 185.

17 Sylvanus G. Morley. “A Most Selfish Thing for Santa Fe,” quoted in Nicholas C. Markovich, “Santa Fe Renaissance: City Planning and Stylistic Preservation, 1912,” title above, p. 205.

18 San Francisco Chronicle (22 Sept. 1992), p. D4.

19 Christine Mather and Sharon Woods, Santa Fe Style (New York: Rizzoli, 1986). It sold 110.000 copies in four years and inspired half-a-dozen imitators.

20 Stanley Schuler, The Cape Cod House (West Chester, PA: Schiffer, 1982). p. 13. Additional historical lore can be found in Ernest Allen Connally, “The Cape Cod House: an Introductory Study,” Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians (May, 1960).

21 Quoted in Stanley Schuler, title above, p. 15-16.

22 Quoted in Clare Collins, “Old Houses Are Tremendously Strong,” New York Times (9 April 1989).

23 Anthony D. King, The Bungalow (London: Routledge & Kegan, 1984), p. 134. King’s subtitle is: “The Production of a Global Culture.” He makes his case, since “it is a dwelling type—possibly the only one—which, both in form and name, can almost certainly be found in every continent of the world.” (p. 2.)

24 The exquisite oiled woodwork, rough stone, and grandly connected rooms in houses by Charles and Henry Greene continue to inspire contemporary builders, clients, and some architects. The best books are Greene and Greene, vols. 1 and 2, by Randell L. Makinson (Salt Lake City: Peregrine Smith, 1977 and 1979). Vol. 1 is “Architecture as a Fine Art”; Vol. 2 is “Furniture and Related Designs.”

25 Clay Lancaster, “The American Bungalow,” Common Places, ed. Dell Upton and John Michael Vlach (Athens, GA: Univ. of Georgia, 1986), p. 103.

26 These numbers come from the thorough study by Allan D. Wallis, Wheel Estate (New York: Oxford, 1991), pp. 13 and 230. See Recommended Bibliography. In 1988 the average site-built home cost $100,000 for 2,000 square feet ($50 per square foot)—$138,000 if you add the average land price. An average “single-wide” mobile home of 970 square feet cost $18,500 ($19 per square foot)—and land was either rented in a mobile-home park or semi-free on a relative’s rural property. Even a really roomy multi-section (“double-wide”) mobile home of 1,430 square feet cost only $33,500 ($23.40 per square foot).

27 Virginia and Lee McAlester, The Field Guide to American Houses (New York: Knopf, 1987), p. 475. See Recommended Bibliography.

28 Allan D. Wallis, title above, p. v.

29 Allan D. Wallis, “House Trailers: Innovation and Accommodation in Vernacular Housing,” Perspectives in Vernacular Architecture, III, Thomas Carter and Bernard L. Herman, eds. (Columbia, MO: Univ. of Missouri, 1989), p. 42.

30 Allan D. Wallis, title above, p. 41.

31 Wheel Estate, p. 239. John A. Kouwenhoven, “What is ‘American’ in Architecture?” The Beer Can by the Highway (New York: Doubleday, 1961), p 156.

1 Vincent Scully, Charles Moore Gold Medal Presentation, 6 Feb. 1991, at the National Buildings Museum, Washington, DC.

2 Quoted in “Focus on Preservation,” Architectural Record (March, 1991), p. 152. Fitch wrote the authoritative text Historic Preservation—see Recommended Bibliography

3 The bimonthly Old House Journal costs $24/year from 2 Main Street, Gloucester, MA, 01930. England has a quite separate but also excellent magazine with the same name.

4 Sally G. Oldham, “The Business of Preservation is Bullish and Diverse,” Preservation Forum, National Trust for Historic Preservation (Winter, 1990), p. 16.

5 Robert Jensen, “Design Directions: Other Voices,” AIA Journal, May 1978, quoted in All About Old Buildings (Washington: Preservation Press, 1985), p. 30.

6 Deborah Devonshire, The Estate (London: Macraillan, 1990), p. 110.

7 Leon Krier, “Houses, Palaces, Cities,” A.D. Profile 54 (London: Architectural Design, 1984), p. 10.

8 Paul Goldberger, Preservation: Toward an Ethic in the 1980s, quoted in Landmark Yellow Pages (Washington: Preservation Press, 1990), p. 95.

9 According to Donald Rypkema, a real-estate economist who specializes in preservation issues, even extensive rehabilitation (services, windows, roof) typically costs 3 to 16 percent less than demolishing and replacing an old building. “Making Renovation Feasible,” Architectural Record (Jan. 1992), p. 27.

10 “… The amount of energy initially invested in a building—equivalent to about 12 gallons of gasoline per square foot—is enough to heat, cool, and light the same building for more than 15 years…. Construction of new buildings in the United States accounts for more than 5 percent of the total US energy use each year.” William I. Whidden, “The Concept of Embodied Energy,” New Energy from Old Buildings (Washington: Preservation Press, 1981), p. 130.

11 Richard Catt, “A Few Guidelines to Putting a Price on Architectural History,” CSW [Chartered Surveyor Weekly] (1 Aug. 1991), p. 18.

12 Sandra Wilcoxon, “Historic House Museums: Impacting Local Economies,” Preservation Forum, National Trust for Historic Preservation (May 1991), p. 10.

13 Special section on travel and tourism, The Economist (23 Mar. 1991), p. 5.

14 According to the World Tourism Organization. Edward Epstein, “World Insider,” San Francisco Chronicle (14 May 1993), p. A10.

15 Always cited to Bulletin Archeologique, vol. 1, 1839.

16 John Ruskin, The Seven Lamps of Architecture (New York: Dover, 1848, 1880, 1989), p. 194.

17 The book is back in print. Walter Muir Whitehill, “Promoted to Glory,” With Heritage So Rich (Washington: Preservation Press, 1966, 1983), p. 137.

18 Deborah Devonshire, The Estate (London: Macmillan, 1990), p. 109.

19 Many have noticed the contradiction in Paragraph 4, which declares pretty baldly, “Old change good, new change bad.” This aesthetic revisionism will turn up again around vernacular buildings.

20 US Department of the Interior, The Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation & Illustrated Guidelines for Rehabilitating Historic Buildings (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1992), p. vi. See Recommended Bibliography. The National Park Service has a precise definition for rehabilitation: “the process of returning a property to a state of utility, through repair or alteration, which makes possible an efficient contemporary use while preserving those portions and features of the property which are significant to its historic, architectural, and cultural values.”

21 Kevin Lynch, What Time Is This Place? (Cambridge: MIT, 1972), p. 30. See Recommended Bibliography.

Cultural historian Chris Wilson has a less romantic interpretation. He sees preservation as in part a bourgeois control scheme. Being against mixture and change, old white families promote purity and stability through shaping buildings to reflect the pre-industrial order of things. The South goes pre-Civil-War. New England goes pre-immigrant. California goes Spanish Colonial and carefully excludes contemporary Hispanics. Aware of the charge, the National Trust for Historic Preservation has developed a new emphasis on cultural diversity in its programs.

22 James Marston Fitch, Historic Preservation (Charlottesville: Univ. of Virginia, 1982, 1990), p. 382. See Recommended Bibliography.

23 Title above, p. xi. Fitch calls the one approach “rationalist,” the other “historically determined.”

24 What Time Is This Place?, pp. 38-9.

25 Joel Garreau, Edge City (New York: Doubleday, 1991), p. 58. See Recommended Bibliography.

26 J. B. Jackson, The Necessity for Ruins (Cambridge: MIT Press, 1980), p. 101.

27 This and the following quote are from Jane Jacobs, The Death and Life of Great American Cities (New York: Random House, 1961,1993), pp. 253-254. See Recommended Bibliography.

28 Tracy Kidder tells of a message found in a can above a porch in an old house in Delaware: “William W. Rose in closed this on November 25th, 1850. On the night of the 23rd of the same month Josiah Ridegeways dwelling house and storehouse and wheelwright shop was burnt down on the corner And this frame suffered from the same fier. With difficulty it was savd. I in close this that when this house is wore out the repairer will know how long it was bilt. James Stevens had this house bilt. He was a Blacksmith by trad the best ax man of that time. William W. Rose was the bilder.” Tracy Kidder, House (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1985), p. 140.


Aalto, Alvar, 24

Abandonment, 112

Abrams, John, 150, 186, 196–200, 206–207

Ackerman, Jerry, 158n.

Acoma Pueblo, 146, 147, 148–49

Acoustical tile, 169–70

“Active noise control,” 220n.

Adams Building, 45

Adaptive buildings, 20–23, 188

architects and, 53

built for change, 190–209

satisficing and, 156–77

“Adaptive use,” 103–105, 108–109

Adaptivity, 173–77

Adobe, 147n., 161, 201

A. D. Profile 54, 79n., 82n., 93n.

“Aesthetic infrastructure,” 102

Aesthetic revisionism, 98n.

A-frame vacation houses, 192

Age, 10–11

Age distribution, 219

Ahrentzen, Sherry, 218n.

Akron, Ohio, 105

Albert, Ton, 172

Alberti, Leon Battista, 114

Alcatraz, 108

Alexander, Christopher, 21, 23, 56, 57, 63–64, 85, 95, 102, 126–27, 132, 133, 173, 190, 194, 200, 206, 208–209, 225

All About Old Buildings (Maddex), 82n., 90n., 226

Allan, Jonathan, 27

Allen, T. F. H., 17N.

Allen, Thomas, 177

Alleys, 76, 211

Aluminum siding, 119

Amenities, 164

American Architect, 147n.

American Institute of Architects (AIA), 52, 58, 70, 207, 210

“25-Year Award,” 71

Americans: The Democratic Experience (Boorstin), 140n.

Americans: The National Experience, The (Boorstin), 140n.

American Shelter (Walker), 225

American Vernacular Interior Architecture (Jennings and Gottfried), 152

Amoco building, 120

Ancient English Houses (Sykes), 102, 228

Anders, Lorrie M., 162n.

Andersen, Arthur, 65

Anthony, Carolyn, 158n.

Apartheid in South Africa, 185

Apple Computer, 24, 29

Archer, Thomas, 35

Architects, 53–71

Architects and Firms (Blau), 67n.

Architectural Association (London), 56

Architectural Digest, 12, 140n., 211

Architectural Forum, 151

Architectural Graphic Standards, 5, 141

Architectural historians, 90

Architectural magazines, 55, 70–71, 211

Architectural photography, 54

Architectural Record, 75n., 89n., 93n., 210n., 220n.

Architectural Theory of Viollet-le-Duc, The (Hearn), 226

Architecture, 2, 210, 211

Architecture, 58n., 65–66, 67n., 68n., 71n, 116, 117n., 120, 121n.

Architecture departments, buildings that house university, 68

Argyris, Chris, 167, 219

Aristotle, 73

“Ark, The,” 69

Art, 54–56

Artists, 28

Artists and Architects Collaborate: Designing the Wiesner Building, 53n.

Art of living, 135

Art of the Long View, The (Schwartz), 181n., 225

Arts and Crafts movement, 94, 147, 151

Arycanda, 54–55

As-builts, 128, 207

Ashlar, 54–55

Astor House, 7

Atlantic, 125n.

Atriums, 52–54, 172–73, 200

Attics, 28, 138, 162

Authentic Decor (Thornton), 158n.

Awalate, Tom, 144

Awards, 55, 71, 211

Backyards, 160, 197

Bacon, Francis, 189

Bailey, Peter, 32, 33

Baker House, 24

“Balloon frame,” 194

Bank of America, 84–85

Banta, Philip, 174

Bar Hillel, Mira, 58n.

Barmi (Hernandez), 227

Baroque style, 98

Barsotti’s Automotive Service shop, 25

Basements, 28, 138, 162, 202

Bass family, 102

Bataan Memorial Building, 18

Bateson, Gregory, 130–31, 167, 219

Bathrooms, 19, 114

Bauhaus movement, 55, 63

Beaux-Arts style, 104, 208

Bechtel Corporation, 30, 171

Becker, Franklin, 175n., 226

“Bed by the Window, The,” 51

Beeliegh Abbey, 34

Beerbohm, Robert, 110

Beer Can by the Highway, The (Kouwenhoven), 154n.

Belvedere, California, 79–80

Benedikt, Michael, 56, 57n.

Benson, Tedd, 179, 224

Berkshire Life Insurance Building, 7

Berlin, 76n., 77, 102

Bevington, Rick, 19n.

Bible, 110

Bigelow, Henry Forbes, 48

Big House, Little House, Back House, Barn (Hubka), 137n., 227

Bilello, Joseph, 71

“Biobuildings,” 221

“Biography” houses, 38–44, 156–57

Birrell, John, 102

Black, J. W., 16

Blaine, James, 4

Blaisdell, Marilyn, 15, 229

Blau, Judith, 67n.

Blueprints, 120n.

Blue to white collar house, 4

Board-and-batten wall, 196

Bodane, Richard, 68

Bolt, Baranek, and Newman, 27

Bonding between building and inhabitants, 23

High Road, 34–51

Low Road, 24–33

Bonnettstown (Bush), 158n., 225

“Book, The,” 196–200, 207

Boorstin, Daniel, 140

Borchers, Perry, 144

Born, Ernest, 133, 228

Borne, Patricia, 214

Boston, 16, 82–83

Boston Athenaeum, 45–49

Boston Globe, 158n.

Boston Public Library, 215n.

Boston Then and Now (Vanderwarker), 228

Boudin, Stefan, 22

Boulée, Etienne-Louis, 188

Boutelle, Sara Holmes, 209n.

Brady, Matthew, 99

Brand, Stewart, 53n., 228

Brennan, Terry, 113

Brewton, Robert, 101

Brick, 120–23, 138–39

Bridge House, 109

Bridging the Gap (Rogers), 71n.

Brooks, Frederick, 185–86

Brown, “Capability,” 34, 64–65

Brown, S. Azby, 203n., 224

“Bubble diagrams,” 178, 179

Building aesthetics, 189

Building codes, 73–75

Building historians, 90, 135–39

Building inspection, 75, 163

Building nostalgia industry, 90

Building project, 61

“Buildings,” 2

contradictory lives of, 73

Built for Change (Moudon), 19, 192–93, 227

Built-ins, 163

“Built-up roof” (BUR), 115

Bulletin Archeologique, 95n.

Bundestag, 200, 201

Bungalow, The (King), 151n.

Bungalows, 151–53, 155, 162

Bunting, Bainbridge, 143n.

Bureaucracies, 44

Busch Building, 99

Bush, Andrew, 158n., 225

Cabbage Row, 100

Cabot, Edward Clark, 46

Cafe Pasqual’s, 21

Caisse Nationale des Monuments Historiques, 98

California College of Arts and Crafts, 12

Calthorpe, Peter, 17, 54, 56, 72, 227

Cambridge Historical Commission, 119

Cambridge University, 57

Campbell, Robert, 104, 228

Cape Cod house, 60, 150–51, 155

Cape Cod House, The (Schuler), 150, 151n.

Capehart-Crocker house, 2

Captain Barnes house, 20

Care for Old Houses (Cunnington), 92, 226–27

Carlyle, Thomas, 45

Carnegie, Andrew, 194n.

Carter, Thomas, 154

“Catalog architecture,” 141

Catalog of Historic Preservation Publications, 226

Cathedral Stone, 220

Catt, Richard, 95n.

“Cave and commons,” 172–73, 174

Cavendish, Andrew, 34

Cavendish, William, 35

Cavity walls, 123–24, 196

Cavity Wall Tie Failure (Hollis), 123

Ceiling tiles, 169–70

Cellular expansion, 187

Change, 167

built for, 190–209

“claims” and, 62–63

costs and, 13

High Road buildings and, 34–49

lot size and, 75–77

poverty and, 102

ate of, 12–23, 83–84

space planners and, 65

in techniques and materials, 5

types of buildings and, 7–10

Change and Continuity: A Pictorial History of the Boston Athenaeum, 49n.

Change-back phenomenon, 171–72

Change orders, 62–63

Changing Workplace, The (Duffy), 57n., 175n., 226

Chaos, 188

Chaos (Gleick), 209n.

Charleston, South Carolina, 10, 78–79, 95, 100–101

Charleston Museum, 100

Charlton, Chuck, 128

Chartered Surveyor Weekly, 95n.

Chatsworth, 34–35, 38, 39, 65, 92, 130, 166–67

Chomsky, Noam, 27

Chrematistics, 73n.

Christopher Alexander (Grabow), 86n.

Chrysler Building, 174

Churches, converting, 108–109

Churchill, Winston, 3

Cities, 211

devouring buildings, 5, 6, 81–83

evolution of, 18

long-term view in, 114

lot size in, 18, 75–77

stratification of, 79

transportation and, 76

zoning laws in, 79

City (Whyte), 227

City planners, 76–80, 211

Cityscapes of Boston (Campbell and Vanderwarker), 16, 104, 228

Civilization Before Greece and Rome (Saggs), 73n.

“Claims,” 62–63

Clapboard, 118

Classic Modern Homes of the Thirties (Ford and Ford), 157n., 162n.

Claypole, Elizabeth Ross, 97

Clay tiles, 203

Cleveland, Grover, 22

Clients, 62–63, 140, 190

Cliff House, 14–15

Clinton, William, 22

Cobb, Gerald, 228

Cobb, John B., Jr., 73n.

“Cognitive buildings,” 221

Collected Poetry of Robinson Jeffers, The (Jeffers), 49n., 50n.

Colley, C.J., 15

Collier, John, 4

Collins, Clare, 151n.

Collins, Jim, 179, 180

Colorado Supply Company, 148

Colossal Pictures, 183–84, 187

Columbia University, 89

Columns, 140, 191

Command economies, 17–18, 86, 188

Commercial buildings, 140

change in, 7, 8

Common Places (Upton and Vlach), 134n., 153n.

Communication, 177

Community effects on buildings, 73–76

Complexity, 129

Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture (Venturi), 56

Compton, Spencer, 102

Compton, William, 103

Compton Wynates, 102–103

Computer-aided design (CAD), 201

Computers, 129, 168–69

Concrete, 124–26, 221

Conduits, plastic, 196

Connally, Ernest Allen, 151n.

“Connected farms,” 136, 137n.

Conservatism, 190–92

Consolidating lots, 76–77

Consumer Reports, 71

Containerization, 32–33

Continuity of use, 82–83

Contractors, 61

unscrupulous, 62–63

Contractors of Chartres, The (James), 228

Contracts, 64

Convenience, 165

Convention, 74

Conversions, 108–109, 174–75

Coolidge, Calvin, 22

Cooper-Hewitt Museum, 12

Cosmetic maintenance, 130

Covenants, conditions, and restrictions (CC&Rs), 80, 81n.

Cown, Peter, 186n.

Cox, Frederick, 45

Coyle, Stephen, 55

Craft, 54–55

Craftsman, The, 151

Creativity, 24, 141, 154

Creator of the Santa Fe Style (Sheppard), 148

Crookenden, Jamie, 58n. CRSS, 179

Cuff, Dana, 67n.

Cumberford, Robert, 92

Cunningham, Ann Pamela, 95

Cunnington, Pamela, 92, 226–27

“Curb-appeal,” 80

Dahlin Robert, 158n.

Daly, Herman E., 75n.

Dante, 221

Darragh, Lydia, 97

Davey, Randall, 146

Davis, Charles M., 180

DeAngelis, D. L., 17n.

Death and Life of Great American Cities, The (Jacobs), 29, 78, 85n., 103n., 227

Death of a cottage, 92–93

Decision making, 62, 190

Decks, 162

Deconstructionism, 56

“Decorated sheds,” 56

Defense contractors, 220n.

DEGW, 12–13

DeMars, Vernon, 69

Denton, Augustus, 89

Denton House, 88–89

“Dependencies,” 38, 39

de Peralta, Don Pedro, 142

Design decisions, 190

“Design for disassembly” (DFD), 194

“Design for reuse” (DFR), 194

Designing Buildings That Work (Stitt), 71n.

Designing for time, 189

Design Process, The (Shoshkes), 181n., 226

Design-science of the life of buildings, 210

Desire of my Eyes, The (Kemp), 212n.

de Soto, Hernando, 218n.

Deterioration, 112

Developers, 62, 70

Devonshire, Deborah, Duchess of, 34–35, 64–65, 74, 75n., 92, 93n, 96, 130, 166, 228

Devonshire, Duke of, 34, 35

DeWolfe, Don, 84, 85

Diachronic understanding, 210, 211

Didron, A. N., 94

Digital Equipment Corporation, 27, 186–87

Discarded buildings, 24

Discounting, 84

Discovering the Vernacular Landscape (Jackson), 120n., 139n., 228

Ditmeyer, Martha, 27

Do-it-yourself home improvement, 159, 163

Dolley and the Great Little Madison (Hunt), 38n.

Domebook II (Kahn), 58n.

Domes, 58–60, 120, 188

Domestic buildings (homes):

change in, 7–10

satisficing in, 156–77

services in, 19–20

Domus, 23

Donahue, Judith, 58n.

D’Ooge, Craig, 44–45

Doors, 207

Dorms at Berkeley (Van der Ryn and Silverstein), 65n.

Dorsey, Stephen W., 4

“Double-loop learning,” 167

“Double-pile” house, 39, 134

Downtown, Inc. (Friedan and Sagalyn), 210n., 211, 227

Dream Builders, 174

Dresden, Germany, 101–102

Driving forces, 182

Dropped ceilings, 169

Dry, Carolyn, 221

Ducker, William H., 123n.

Dudek, Stanley, 126

Duff, Philip, 122

Duffy, Francis (Frank), 12–13, 17, 55, 57, 62–63, 65, 66, 70, 71, 82, 90, 128, 167, 168, 169, 171, 175, 181, 211, 212n., 213, 218, 226

DuPont, 168n.

du Pont family, 42

Dwelling, 135, 193

Dworin, Lawrence, 224

Dynamics of systems, 17–18

Early Nantucket and Its Whale Houses (Forman), 137n., 228

Earthquakes, 9, 15, 18, 73–74

Eco, Umberto, 220

Economics, building, 84–87

Economist, The, 61n., 84, 85n., 86n., 94, 95

Ecopoiesis, 164

“Edge cities,” 19, 76–77, 79, 102

Edge City (Garreau), 19n., 62, 63n., 76, 81n., 103n., 227

Edge City News, The, 175n.

Edgerton, Harold, 27

Efficient House Sourcebook, The (Sardinsky), 224

Eiffel Tower, 113

18th-century houses, 139

Eisenhower, Dwight D., 22

Electrifying America, 158n.

Elements of Architecture, The (Wotton), 158n.

“Embodied energy,” 93–94

Empire State Building, 174

Energy expense, 94, 95n., 113, 114, 190

Energy services, 19, 56

English Cathedral: The Forgotten Centuries (Cobb), 228

English Heritage, 95

English Mediaeval House, The (Wood), 75n.

Eno, Brian, 11, 86, 125, 189

Environmentalism, 194

Enzer, Matisse, 64, 123, 191, 203

Epitomie of the World, 158

Epstein, Edward, 95n.

Esherick, Joseph, 69

Estate, The (Devonshire), 65n., 75n., 93n., 96n., 228

Ethyl mercaptan, 129n.

Evans, Walker, 197

Everdell, Colby, 114

“Evolutionary design,” 188

Exotic building shapes, 58–61

“Exterior insulation and finish systems” (EIFS), 196

Exterior of buildings, 54–58, 73, 138, 170, 196

Facadectomy, 19, 57

Facade failure, 119–20

Facades, 54–58, 73, 138

“Facadism,” 99

Facilities, 12n., 71n., 212n.

Facilities managers, 70, 128–29, 167, 189, 213

Factories, conversion of, 108–109

Fairbanks, Lloyd, 121

Fairbanks House, 121, 195, 213

Fakery, 10–11

Fallingwater, 58

Fannie Mae, 86

Fantasy and reality, 158–59

Farm Security Administration, 4, 197, 202

Fashion, 5, 54–55, 90

Faux, Patricia L., 175n.

Fayerbanke, Jonathan, 121

Feedback, 65–71

Fees, architectural, 62

Ferguson, T. J., 144

Fernau, Richard, 183, 184, 187

Fiberglass, 220

Field Guide to American Houses, The (McAlester and McAlester), 153, 162n., 225

Finality, race for, 64

Fine Arts Museum of New Mexico, 149

Fine Homebuilding, 224

Fine Homebuilding (McBride), 162n.

Fine-tuning, 209

“Finishing,” 201, 206

Finkel, Kenneth, 229

Fire, 117n., 139

Fire codes, 74

Fire houses, 44

Fireplace and chimney, masonry, 140

Fishing boat, 31–33

Fitch, James Marston, 89, 101, 103n., 227

Fitting in, 73

Flag House, 97

Flanagan, Roger, 113n.

Flexibility, 176–77

Floor tiles, 170

Flow, 2–11

“Flow, continual flow, continual change, continual transformation,” 3

Fogon, 143, 146

Folk Art Museum, 207

Folk design method, 135

For an Architecture of Reality (Benedikt), 56, 57n.

Ford, James and Katherine Morrow, 157n., 162n.

Forgivingness, 118, 178

Form, 133, 155

Forman, Henry Chandlee, 111, 136, 137n., 228

“Form ever follows function,