Perspectives in Architecture: Seeking & Enjoying Perfection
I share a love for great architecture with Mark, my husband and fellow architect. Upon his return from the Dallas-Fort Worth area, he raved about his visit to the Kimbell Art Museum, one of the best art museums in the country by architect Louis Kahn. Mark described the art galleries as one of the most perfect spaces that he experienced because of the exquisite use of natural light along the ceiling, sophisticated application of concrete, wood and steel and sensitive height and width of the room.
Theorists have discussed the art and science of designing the perfect building and space for centuries. Virtruvius, a Roman architect and writer, described the three requirements of buildings in The Ten Books of Architecture from about 15 B.C. as firmitas, utilitas, and venustas, or in other words, solid, useful, and beautiful. In 1570 A.D., classical architect and writer Palladio offered formulas in The Four Books of Architecture as a guide for the perfect height and length ratio of architectural elements, such as stairs and doors. My husband’s enthusiasm for the Kimbell Art Museum ignited my fond memory of perfect spaces.
I cherished the time in which I ran into the ancient Pantheon as a University of Notre Dame student and enjoyed the icy blue sky through a gigantic opening in the coffered ceiling called an oculus. That connection between architecture and the Earth felt deeply spiritual. I treasured my arrival into the Great Hall of the Thomas Jefferson Building in the Library of Congress by John Smithmeyer and Paul Pelz to experience the breath-taking use of opulent materials, color, rhythm and scale in the space.
Locally, I am always enraptured by the beautiful composition of marble, glazing systems, interior landscaping, water and sunlight in the serene lobby of the 1180 Peachtree building by the architectural firm Pickard Chilton at the corner of Peachtree and 14th Streets.
Though architects and design professionals don’t apply a definitive formula for designing perfect spaces, I, like my husband and architecture lovers in the public, savor the moments when I discover them. We know that great spaces don’t come by accident. Rather, this brilliance results from a deep understanding of materials, technology and the site that is honed with education and experience. The excellence also comes from a constructive relationship between the architectural and construction teams for a project. Take a second look at the spaces that delight or amaze you. What are your favorite spaces in Atlanta? Feel free to share your thoughts with me at email@example.com.
Melody L. Harclerode, AIA, a local architect, promotes the power of architecture and design as a Board Member of the Atlanta chapter of the American Institute of Architects and the Principal of Harclerode Architects (harc-arch.com). For more information about AIA Atlanta programs, check out aiaatlanta.org.