Page C3.2 . 18 July 2007                     
ArchitectureWeek - Culture Department
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Words and Buildings


Alvar Aalto

"When I personally have some architectural problem to solve, I am constantly . . . faced with an obstacle difficult to surmount, a kind of "three in the morning feeling." The reason seems to be the complicated, heavy burden represented by the fact that architectural planning operates with innumerable elements which often conflict. Social, human, economic and technical demands combined with psychological questions affecting both the individual and the group, together with movements of human masses and individuals, and internal frictions all these form a complex tangle which cannot be unravelled in a rational or mechanical way. The immense number of different demands and component problems constitute a barrier from behind which it is difficult for the basic idea to emerge . . . I forget the entire mass of problems for a while, after the atmosphere of the job and the innumerable difficult requirements have sunk into my subconscious. Then I move on to a method of working which is very much like abstract art. I just draw by instinct, not architectural synthesis, but what are sometimes childlike compositions, and in this way, on this abstract basis, the main idea gradually takes shape, a kind of universal substance which helps me to bring innumerable contradictory component problems into harmony."

from Malcolm Quantril. Alvar Aalto: A Critical Study. New York: Shocken Books, 1983. p5.

Louis I. Kahn

"A building is like a human, an architect has the opportunity of creating life. The way the knuckles and joints come together make each hand interesting and beautiful. In a building these details should not be put in a mitten and hidden. Space is architectural when the evidence of how it is made is seen and comprehended."

from Heinz Ronner, with Sharad Jhaveri and Alessandro Vasella Louis I. Kahn: Complete Works 1935-74. p116.

Eero Saarinen

"We should stop thinking of our individual buildings. We should take the advice my father gave me, 'Always look at the next larger thing.' When the problem is a building, we should look at the spaces and relationships that that building creates with others....In the process [the architect] will gradually formulate strong convictions about outdoor space the beauty of the space between the buildings and if he does, he will carry his conviction on to his most important challenge how to build cities."

from Allan Temko. Eero Saarinen. p26.

Architect Joshua Ramus, partner at the Rem Koolhaas-led Office for Metropolitan Architecture

"Although the library is sculptural, it is not in any way an attempt to make a form. The library's appearance comes from pushing boxes around to stay within the height and setback restrictions and zoning codes."

quoted in ArchitectureWeek No. 236

Gerrit Rietveld

"No one had ever looked at this little lane before this house was built here. There was a dirty crumbling wall with weeds growing in front of it. Over there was a small farm. It was a very rural spot, and this sort of fitted in. It was a deserted place, where anyone who wanted to pee just did it against this wall. It was a real piece of no-man's-land. And we said, 'Yes, this is just right, let's build it here.' And we took this plot of ground and made it into a place with a reality of its own. It didn't matter what it was, so long as something was there, something clear. And that's what it became. And that's always been my main aim: to give to a yet unformed space, a certain meaning."

from Paul Overy, Lenneke B?ller, Frank den Oudsten, Bertus Mulder. The Rietveld Schroder House. p52.

"...We didn't avoid older styles because they were ugly, or because we couldn't reproduce them, but because our own times demanded their own form, I mean, their own manifestation. It was of course extremely difficult to achieve all this in spite of the building regulations and that's why the interior of the downstairs part of the house is somewhat traditional, I mean with fixed walls. But upstairs we simply called it and 'attic' and that's where we actually made the house we wanted."

Gerrit Rietveld. from Paul Overy, Lenneke B?ller, Frank den Oudsten, Bertus Mulder. The Rietveld Schroder House. p73.

Robert Venturi

"The [Vanna Venturi House] is big as well as little, by which I mean that it this a little house with big scale. ...Outside, the manifestations of big scale are the main elements, which are big and few in number and central or symmetrical in position, as well as the simplicity and consistency of the form and silhouette of the whole....The main reason for the large scale is to counterbalance the complexity. "

from Venturi, Rauch & Scott Brown: Buildings and Projects. p244-246.

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The Mount Angel Library by Alvar Aalto.
Kevin Matthews/Artifice Images

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Curving, daylit interior of the Mount Angel Library.
Kevin Matthews/Artifice Images

ArchWeek Image

An element of the Richards Medical Center by Louis I. Kahn.
Donald Corner and Jenny Young/Artifice Images

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An element of the TWA Terminal at New York by Eero Saarinen.
MC Mr. E./Artifice Images

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The Seattle Public Library by Rem Koolhaas.
David Owen/Artifice Images

ArchWeek Image

Interior of the Seattle Public Library.
David Owen/Artifice Images

ArchWeek Image

The Schroder House by Gerrit Rietveld.
Don Johnson/Artifice Images

ArchWeek Image

The Vanna Venturi House by Robert Venturi.
Kevin Matthews/Artifice Images


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