HUM117 the arts the senses & the imagination

Engaging Architecture


(3-4 pages)

Enter a large building (public buildings such as City Hall, libraries, churches, cathedrals, theaters, jazz club, etc. are good choices) and notice the narrative that unfolds:


The general view -- to where is the eye drawn?  Is the entrance obvious?  Is the building welcoming or forbidding?  What design elements are present?  How does light play across the surface of the building?  Is there a lot of detail and decoration?  Does that draw you in or it is it overwhelming?  As you look at a building, imagine the architect's pristine line drawings that are the original plan for the building.  Is there a geometry in the design of the building that is perhaps not immediately obvious from a casual impression of the actual building?  Which is more pleasing, the actual building or the imagined building?


Entering the building -- as you enter the building, is there a series of events to take you inside?  For example, you climb up a flight of steps, you open the outer door, you go into a small space, cross through that small space and, opening an inner door, you enter the next space, which is much larger.  How does that feel?


Inside the building -- At this point do you feel like you know where it is appropriate for you go next? 


How has the sound quality changed as you moved from outside to inside?  Quiet to noisy, or noisy to quiet?  Notice what materials are used in the interior.  How do they affect the sound?


What materials are used in the building?  Concrete, marble, wood, metal, glass, granite, sandstone -- what do these materials mean?  Do different types of materials (or colors) articulate inside/outside boundaries?  Boundaries within the building?



Notice a building or group of buildings in which exterior space is as important as the building itself.  What function is being served, or what effect is being created?


Identify a building in which interior space is as important a compositional element as the materials of the building itself.  What does that space do?


Identify a multi-story building that follows Louis Sullivan's three-part formula.


Identify a building that draws your eye upward.  How does the design reflect the "meaning" of the building?


Identify a building that is more "Earth-bound" in that the eye is prompted to move along a horizontal line rather than rise up to the sky.  How does this design reflect the meaning of the building?



DC Mecker

rev 2008

HUM117 the arts the senses & the imagination