photo by Patrick Wong Request From Student:
Hello Professor Starbuck,
My name is A, and I am an Interior Design (set & entertainment) major, in your Wednesday 1pm Design Fundamentals course.
In my PSYCH2301 course, we are working on a dissertation in regards to issues within our focused industry. I find the book, 'Why Architecture Matters' I'm studying quite interesting, especially when I read one of Goldbergers' concepts concerning architecture not being art. If you haven't read the book, that's fine. Then just disregard that information. :) However, the assignment for week two in my psychology course was to construct topics to discuss in my paper, and I presented "Architecture, is it Art?" as one of the three. When my professor was reading my suggestions for approval, she paused to call me to her desk and said: " I don't understand how you would argue that architecture isn't art? Architecture is considered art." and I explained how I've recently encountoured engaging arguments (one being my highly accredited, intro to interior design professor) as to why that wouldn't be true.
Though I am supposed to remain nuetral in my deliberation, I'm conducting research to gain authentic, and qualified views from both sides of the spectrum. So, if you don't mind... Could you explain why you would argue that Architecture would/or wouldn't be considered art, supporting or aside from what Goldberger states in his book?
"When we talk about how architecture matters, it is important to understand that the way in which it matters—beyond, of course, the obvious fact of shelter—is the same way in which any kind of art matters: it makes life better."
- Paul Goldberger
I have not read the Goldberger book, but I did read a speech that he gave to promote the book. In the speech he makes many arguments that architecture does function as art in our society. Goldberger makes the point that like great art, he mentions Beethoven's Fifth Symphony and Michelangelo’s David, "great buildings ... have expanded our sense of human possibility".
Much architecture serves a utilitarian function such as mass-produced houses in suburban neighborhoods. Art is also mass produced and fills those functional dwellings in the form of posters and prints. Architects make functional buildings that are not art, artists make decorative designs that are not "fine art" objects.
I believe Goldberger, who is an architecture critic, made a number of arguments in his talk about the book that placed architecture in the realm of art especially when he reflects on his role as a critic. He says, "the greatest joy of architecture is in the discovery of its ability to be art."
I live in a one-of-a-kind house built with an aesthetically-driven architect. Our house has some problems that non-art houses might have, but it also has a presence and space that is creative and inspirational. Working with our architect was an aesthetic experience involving steps much like decisions that go into making art. Functional units had to be included in our home, but the end results is far beyond just plumbing, walls, and rooms. Our house has been featured in Modern Architecture magazines as an example of uniques modern creative design.
So I hope this helps you with your paper.
Here is my Goldberger reference and photos of my house.
Why Architecture Matters
Cleveland Museum of Art
September 15th, 2010
the texas cantilever by universal joint
(In these photos our house was staged by an interior designer and much of the featured furniture is not ours.)
Honoria Starbuck, Ph.D.