style…final words


Sigh…thanks Brian Paletz for suggesting this. The very thought of addressing style and sorting through the customary arguments for or against things old, things new or somewhere in between feels exhausting. I’ve struggled to find time to write lately only to have our Architalks topic be focused on a word I work to avoid. If you’ve read my blog at all in the last seven years, you know I’ve addressed this often. So, forgive me for recounting the many earlier posts, but I hope the preponderance of evidence of past rants, rambles and rages should make my point, if I haven’t been clear until now.

Oh, Modernism Who Art Thou: For those who carelessly throw around the terms modern or contemporary, I share my doubts of really knowing what either of these mean. Nothing has changed in the past six years.


Traditional Architecture: Feeling the need to address the obvious, I share my thoughts about traditional architecture dare someone criticize me of having a limited palate for only modern architecture (of course how can that be since I don’t know what means). I was still criticized. I’ll say it again, no architect dislikes traditional or classical architecture. We just hate (can I say that), strongly dislike false historic attempts and poorly executed traditional buildings. These are probably the hardest buildings to do well and one cannot “drape” classicism on most contemporary buildings without a painful result.


Not just a Modernist: If someone didn’t get the point before, I came out and said it again.


The Simple Foods: To steer the conversation away from “style”, I attempt to address the elements of architecture that inspire me and my approach to design – a focus on the simple things:  materials, textures, hardware, fixtures, form and most important, space. From there, style becomes unimportant.


Today a bit of Yesterday, hopefully a Tomorrow: As an architect who largely works with existing buildings, a site visit inspired a few thoughts. “It is important to remember that architecture was here before us, and I certainly hope we make architecture to be here when we’re gone. let’s make good decisions and not borrow against tomorrow.”


History Lesson Needed: Events in my own practice that involved style, history, present and past evoked this outburst where I began to finally see through people’s opinions about architectural style that has nothing to do with architectural superiority or quality. It is more shallow than that unfortunately.


Search for Authentic: A weekend trip involving a 1940’s diner inspired thoughts about my naïve idealism for creating architecture that is authentic rather than faking something that only fools our eyes. We find that it is perhaps impossible to achieve this; my opinions of most building construction today is revealed through my sarcastic diatribe fueled by the afterglow of a satisfying bacon and egg breakfast in one of my most favorite types of restaurants.


Order off the Menu: Never being afraid to tackle architectural topics of controversy, I make a connection between searching for an architect much like one chooses a restaurant. I share my thoughts (and opinions – don’t worry), recommending one research the type(s) of work their architect of choice does and does well. Some architects claim to design “whatever” one wants with an air of confidence and proficiency in multiple representations. I posit an argument that better results come from ordering the type of food that is offered on their menu.


What Are the Rules: Finally, I come right out and say what I thought I was saying all along. My biggest trouble with the design of traditional or classical architecture today stems from the failure of most designers ignore the foundation of why these structures of the past are so good. The architecture of the past is far more than copying and pasting details onto a simple box. I conflate thoughts about our architectural past with similar rules for contemporary architecture today.


Well that was actually fun, but after so much senseless debate over visual superiority, I must concede that it will never end. I can apprehend why the architecturally uneducated American prefers what they like and ignore their own inconsistencies. I don’t believe it’s linked to a superior style any more than I believe most architects (currently practicing) prefer what is considered “modern” or contemporary due to a brain-washing process initiated in architectural education and perpetuated by the architectural media. These arguments are more complex and deeper but a resolution will likely evade the profession during my lifetime.

Does it really matter? Well, that’s one of the questions. Now you must start all over at the beginning.20170213_191501.jpg

Please take some time to read the posts of my friends and their take on style for this month’s topic on Architalks.

Lora Teagarden – L² Design, LLC (@L2DesignLLC)
The AREsketches Style

Jeffrey Pelletier – Board & Vellum (@boardandvellum)
Should You Pick Your Architect Based on Style or Service?

Keith Palma – Architect’s Trace (@cogitatedesign)
Stylized Hatred

Collier Ward – One More Story (@BuildingContent)
Good Artists Copy; Great Artists Steal

Bob Borson – Life of An Architect (@bobborson)

Eric T. Faulkner – Rock Talk (@wishingrockhome)
Name That Stile!

Michele Grace Hottel – Michele Grace Hottel, Architect (@mghottel)

Meghana Joshi – IRA Consultants, LLC (@MeghanaIRA)
Architalks : Style

brady ernst – Soapbox Architect (@bradyernstAIA)
What Style Do You Build In?

Brian Paletz – The Emerging Architect (@bpaletz)
You do you

Jarod Hall – di’velept (@divelept)
What’s Your Style?

Greg Croft – Sage Leaf Group (@croft_gregory)
Architectural Style

Samantha R. Markham – The Aspiring Architect (@TheAspiringArch)
5 Styles of an Aspiring Architect

Kyu Young Kim – J&K Architects Atelier (@sokokyu)
Loaded With Style

Nisha Kandiah – ArchiDragon (@ArchiDragon)
Regression or Evolution : Style

Jim Mehaffey – Yeoman Architect (@jamesmehaffey)
What’s in a Style?

Mark Stephens – Mark Stephens Architects (@architectmark)
Architectalks 23 – Style

Michael LaValley – Evolving Architect (@archivalley)
Defining an Architect’s Style

Jeremiah Russell, AIA – ROGUE Architecture (@rogue_architect)
style: #architalks

style…final words

we fail to fail


“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” – Thomas A. Edison

“Success is most often achieved by those who don’t know that failure is inevitable.” – Coco Chanel

I hate being wrong. Why is it that one of the most powerful teaching devices (if not the most) is shunned or not permitted in architecture? Continue reading “we fail to fail”

we fail to fail

eight foot ceiling


A thought came to me as part of my preparation to teach my Sunday school class. I typically teach a three-month long class once a year, sometimes more. In our current material, pastor and author Mark Batterson, in writing about spiritual matters, discusses limits we place on ourselves from (incorrect) assumptions we make. Continue reading “eight foot ceiling”

eight foot ceiling