Essays and Articles on the Social Art of Architecture
The essays and articles below by "seasoned" thinkers provide a unique on-line resource for study. When these thoughts are read in combination with winning student essays, it is more then abundantly clear the scope and importance of the fact that architecture is a social art.
Each year the Berkeley Prize Committee invites a distinguished professor or scholar in the field of architecture or the related social sciences to write about some aspect of the year's Berkeley Prize topic.
These essays serve several purposes:
- They are meant to help focus students' thoughts on the issues surrounding the year's Question.
- They are a model for excellence in writing.
- They exhibit both how defined and how broad the range of possible response to a Question.
List of Essays
Anthony Schuman: Toward an Architecture of Solidarity
Architecture for the Public Good: A Photo Essay by the BERKELEY PRIZE Committee
Paul Broches: A Gentle Push Toward Design for Everyone
John Cary: 2011 Commencement Address, College of Environmental Design, University of California, Berkeley
Benjamin Clavan: Creating Architectural Monuments
Charles Debbas: Zimbabwe Childcare Centers: A Collaboration between the International Child Resource Institute and Debbas Architecture
Tom Fisher: Public-Interest Architecture: A Needed and Inevitable Change
Lance Hosey: The role of the street in fostering social life
Nathan Koren: Architecture in Reverse: Building the Pyramid from the Top Down
Raymond Lifchez: A Digital Archive of the Architecture of Charity (view exhibit) (view essay)
Michael Pyatok: Personal Choices, Social Purpose
David Salazar: studioMDA in New York City: Making Social Architecture a Reality
Statements Regarding the 2004 Berkeley Prize Question
Articles of interest to those concerned with the social art of architecture from the general press are posted periodically on the BERKELEY PRIZE Facebook page. The growing number of these articles attest to the fact that there is now more public discussion (and more in-depth discussion) about the role of architecture in the social and cultural life of the world's population.
List of Articles
- From the current issue of ARCHITECT magazine, published in the United States in association with the American Institute of Architects, a few words about the future of architectural discussion by the architectural critic for the NEW YORK TIMES that reinforces the idea that architecture is, ultimately, a social art.
"Social Agent/Expanding Architecture's Discourse"
- Jargon interferes with our appreciation of the art that has perhaps the most impact on us. "Why don't we read about architecture?" is the question asked by Allison Arieff in this recent online opinion piece - and yearly by the BERKELEY PRIZE. Arieff argues that jargon interferes with our appreciation of the art that has perhaps the most impact on us. (From the New York Times Opinionator blog).
"Why Don't We Read About Architecture"
- The Curry Stone Design Prize was created to recognize that designers can be a force for improving people's lives. Read about this year's winners from around the world and how the prize not only rewards ingenuity, but it is also rewarding bottom up social change. (From Huffington Post's IMPACT internet newspaper)
"Curry Stone Design Prize: Design with a Mission."
- The exhibition "Design with the Other 90%: CITIES," organized by the Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, is currently on display through January 12, 2012 at the United Nations in New York City. Curator Cynthia Smith's in-depth assessment, adapted from her catalogue essay, of the research that took her to Asia, Africa and Latin America explores innovations in humanitarian design and describes how she found many examples of hybrid solutions that work "to bridge the formal and informal city" and to make the planet's rapidly growing cities "more just and humane." (From DESIGN OBSERVER, 10.20.11) . Read a review of this survey of Design for the Public Good from around the world in the New York Times.
- In a shift from a time when New York City hired only the lowest bidders for civic projects, dozens of new city buildings have been designed by gifted architects...for the public good.
"New York's Public Architecture gets a Facelift"
- One attempt at making city streets more pedestrian friendly by greening the hard cityscape quickly, cheaply, and creatively.
"Tiny Parks are on a Roll in San Francsico"
- One of the best summaries of the state of humanitarian design today, part of ARCHITECT magazine's September 2011 issue on Natural Disasters: Architecture to the Rescue.
"Altruism, Architecture & Disaster"
- BERKELEY PRIZE Committee Member John Cary on public-private art pieces.
"The next growth industry in America? Public-private arts projects"
- Opinion piece by BERKELEY PRIZE Committee Member John Cary: "Architect Barbie" fails to address the very real gender gap in architecture.
"'Architect Barbie' builds a dream home, but her profession needs a makeover"
- Read the recent CNN.com editorial, 'Apple's philanthropy needs a reboot', co-authored by John Cary, a BERKELEY PRIZE Committee member.
"Apple's philanthropy needs a reboot"
- Read about this United Nations effort to tie colleges around the world together in the pursuit of, among other ideals, the organization's Millenium Development Goals. These precepts provide a foundation for the social art of architecture.
The United Nations Academic Impact initiative
- It is not pretty, but here is some imaginative thinking about how to let cities grow naturally and incrementally.
"New York's Low-Tech, Low-Cost, High-Style DeKalb Market"
- Read about an architect who has gained international fame by thinking about design in its essence as first a social art.
"The Ascension of Peter Zumthor"
- From one of the United States' premiere intellectual journals, an article about the need for more skyscrapers that barely addresses the issues of the day-to-day lives of all those who would be asked to call these new structures 'home'.
"How Skyscrapers Can Save the City"
- Eye-sores to eye-catchers?
"Cities embrace temporary fixes for stalled construction projects"
- A great audio piece about "Privately Owned Public Open Spaces," little sacred spots scattered throughout the city, from the fabulous 99% Invisible.
"99% Private at 99% Invisible"
- Contested semantics around calling the Cordoba a "Mosque-Cathedral," and the history of a place that has been sacred to two faiths.
"In Córdoba, ‘Mosque-Cathedral’ Reflects Clash of Faiths"
- Mad Men, the critically-acclaimed United State's television series, is more than just a period piece about Madison Avenue, New York in the 1960s. The social art of architecture hits the airwaves!
"In 'Mad Men,' fewer places to hide"
- A report on a current attempt to tie together sustainability and the social art of architecture in the Mid-East.
"In Arabian Desert, a Sustainable City Rises"
Coming Up With Interesting Essay Topics For Architecture Students
Architecture is often defined as both the process and the product of conceiving a plan, then designing and ultimately constructing buildings. Buildings, especially by famous architects such as Zaha Hadid, are widely regarded as works of art that define the civilizations that built them. If you are a budding architect, looking to follow in the footsteps of giants, we have some great topics below for you to write your papers on:
- Explore the relationship between architecture and environment. Think about how buildings exist within a space, climate, and culture. How does architecture contribute or distract from its environment?
- Compare and contrast the design of a work of Modern architecture to that of a Gothic cathedral.
- Write about how Architecture is art in itself. Present alternative views that consider it a science only and debunk those theories.
- Discuss a theory about why the Pyramids were built in the scale and shape that they were. Were the reasons religious, political, mythical or social?
- Argue for or against the Art deco style having been an influence on Modern architecture.
- Discuss how the Industrial Revolution changed the way architecture was studied and viewed.
- Explore how the availability of different types of materials led to the many structures found in the ancient world (You may cover any before 500 A.D.). Compare with modern architecture.
- Compare and contrast Ancient Roman architecture to Ancient Greek architecture.
- Explore how certain lifestyles influenced particular types of architecture. For example, some Native Americans led a nomadic lifestyle and their homes were easily constructed and broken down with each move.
- Compare and contrast skylines across major cities in the world and describe how they reflect that city’s culture.
- What is Architecture? Explore this question artistically, philosophically, and scientifically.
- What is the relationship between technology and architecture?
- Which is more important in architecture: functionality of a building and space, or the form and beauty of a structure?
- Should we strive for creating sustainable architecture, or restoring currently existing structures?
- Compare and contrast Frank Lloyd Wright’s architecture to that of Mies Van Der Rohe.
- Why has humanity been so fixated on creating structures on a massive scale?
- Explore how architecture has influenced different fields: philosophy, art, technology, psychology, etc.
- Discuss lifestyle differences between living in a single-family home to living in a multi-storied apartment complex.
- Compare and contrast the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France to the Empire State building in New York City.
- Explore what you believe architecture will look like in 100 years.
- Has digital rendering improved architecture as a practice or has it taken something away from this field?
- Discuss how architecture has changed in the past 20 years in comparison to the last 200 years.
- Discuss the pros and cons of using concrete in architecture.
- How is Romanesque architecture similar to Baroque? How do they differ?
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