Musing on the Mother Art

Frank Lloyd Wright said “The mother art is architecture. Without an architecture of our own we have no soul of our own civilization.”  It’s an interesting quote.  When I was in design school I used that quote in an argument with my industrial design professor as to why my future career of designing buildings was more important than his most recent job before instructing at the concept car division at Ford Motor Company.  What I didn’t say, was while it may be more important, even more rewarding, his job sounded like more fun!

I’ve often wondered if I would have been satisfied in a different area of design. In fact, at one time I nearly changed my career path in favor of photography.  Recession is often the cause of introspection.  I’m glad, however, that I stayed the course.  Architecture, true building design and the art of creating space, is where I belong.

Sure, I’m not a great accountant or advertiser, and I sometimes feel like writing specifications or reviewing submittals is like pulling your fingernails off slowly, but the satisfaction of solving the design challenge in a beautiful and functional way that is unique to my talents makes it all worth it.  I love the space that great buildings frame.  I love the forms, colors and textures of a beautiful building.  And there is a real reward when you encounter one, whether it was designed by me or not.

But in the end, architecture is not a one person exercise.  There is no great building without a great client.  There is also no great building without a great architect, builder and often a generous lender.  But occasionally they all come together and something wonderful happens, and the whole world is better for it.

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