Lewis Mumford spoke volumes when he stated in his essay that it was "not enough for a contemporary building simply to be something and do something; it must also say something." As Roth communicates to us in his book...this quote from Mumford reverts directly back to the concept of commodity, firmness, and delight. As Modernism continues to rise, we see parallels in past, present, and future ideas. Was and is architecture more than just necessary for functional purposes or is there something more meaningful underneath all the bricks and mortar?
Scandinavian artist Alvar Aalto stated that architecture is "still the same great synthetic process of combining thousands of definite human functions and remains architecture. Its purpose is still to bring the material world into harmony with human life." Prior to taking this class, I never once looked at architecture as encompassing human aspects and characteristics. Since being in this class, I now see the architectural world around me through different eyes. Aalto knew he could create something funtional and beautiful at the same time. He found the balance that many couldn't. He designed in a way that everything is connected...space, light, people, and the structure itself. Aalto only built 2 buildings in America..the rest reside in Finland where he isoriginally from. The Mount Angel Abbey Library in Oregon demonstrates Aalto's command of architecture. The skylights bring in the daylight and at night showcase the starry nights. It contains only furniture and original designs by him. The functionality is appropriate as well for its use as a habitat for books.
"It didn't matter if he didn't believe or agree with what the building was going to be used for; he still put all his efforts forward to make it exactly what the members of that church needed it to mean to them. He almost took on their role, in order to know how they envisioned their church. I think a true designer learns what the client wants, but molds his vision around theirs as well. The picture to the left showcases the Notre-Dame-du-Haut by Le Corbusier. The construction of the building is so unique and one-of-a-kind for a church (I would have never guessed it was a church). The upward reaching peak is almost like a typical church's steeple pointing towards heaven, which is ironic.
Another Swiss architect, Le Corbusier created something only a true designer could have completed. He recreated the French Catholic Church, Notre-Dame-du-Haut since it was destroyed after World War II. The ingenious thing is not that he reconstructed it, but that he was not even Catholic yet the building was so sacred and inspired. Le Corbusier said: " the feeling of the sacred inspired our efforts.
After two Swiss architects, an American finally rose to the trend of humanism and modernism. That American was Louis Kahn, who attended the Ecole des Beaux-Arts. He "viewed the purpose of architecture as elevating human institutions and human activity to an almost metaphysical plane. As the others, he utilized both form and function to create the Jonas Salk Institute for Biological Studies. This institute (pictured to the right) encompasses human activity conducive to its purpose. It is a place for discovering and exploring new things, and this building is communicating that with its different levels and intrigue. The Jonas Salk Institute speaks its purpose to its inhabitants and those outside of its circle. http://figure-ground.com/salk/
In the beginning, the question addressed was is there more meaning to architecture than just surface? These architects clearly demonstrated that there is a whole other aspect to architecture than just function. You basically can't have meaning without function. It has to speak something for it to even matter in the end. If it is just a building without meaning it truly has no purpose. It is weird to be saying this since I have never thought in terms like this. True architects have to have the inspiration along with the design and uniformity with the world around it or it won't make sense. Only few have been able to truly grasp those ideas.