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Architectural Quotes

Frank Lloyd Wright

A free America... means just this: individual freedom for all, rich or poor, or else this system of government we call democracy is only an expedient to enslave man to the machine and make him like it. A great architect is not made by way of a brain nearly so much as he is made by way of a cultivated, enriched heart. A man is a fool if he drinks before he reaches the age of 50, and a fool if he doesn't afterward. All fine architectural values are human values, else not valuable. An architect's most useful tools are an eraser at the drafting board, and a wrecking bar at the site. An expert is a man who has stopped thinking - he knows! An idea is salvation by imagination. Art for art's sake is a philosophy of the well-fed. Buildings, too, are children of Earth and Sun. Bureaucrats: they are dead at 30 and buried at 60. They are like custard pies; you can't nail them to a wall. Early in life I had to choose between honest arrogance and hypocritical humility. I chose the former and have seen no reason to change. Eventually, I think Chicago will be the most beautiful great city left in the world. Every great architect is - necessarily - a great poet. He must be a great original interpreter of his time, his day, his age. Form follows function - that has been misunderstood. Form and function should be one, joined in a spiritual union. Freedom is from within. Get the habit of analysis- analysis will in time enable synthesis to become your habit of mind. Give me the luxuries of life and I will willingly do without the necessities.

God is the great mysterious motivator of what we call nature, and it has often been said by philosophers, that nature is the will of God. And I prefer to say that nature is the only body of God that we shall ever see. Harvard takes perfectly good plums as students, and turns them into prunes. I believe in God, only I spell it Nature. I believe totally in a Capitalist System, I only wish that someone would try it. I feel coming on a strange disease - humility. I find it hard to believe that the machine would go into the creative artist's hand even were that magic hand in true place. It has been too far exploited by industrialism and science at expense to art and true religion. I have been black and blue in some spot, somewhere, almost all my life from too intimate contacts with my own furniture. I think Ms. Monroe's architecture is extremely good architecture. I wouldn't mind seeing opera die. Ever since I was a boy, I regarded opera as a ponderous anarchronism, almost the equivalent of smoking. I'm all in favor of keeping dangerous weapons out of the hands of fools. Let's start with typewriters. If it keeps up, man will atrophy all his limbs but the push-button finger. Less is only more where more is no good. Life always rides in strength to victory, not through internationalism... but only through the direct responsibility of the individual. Maybe we can show government how to operate better as a result of better architecture. Eventually, I think Chicago will be the most beautiful great city left in the world. Mechanization best serves mediocrity. Nature is my manifestation of God. I go to nature every day for inspiration in the day's work. I follow in building the principles which nature has used in its domain.

New York City is a great monument to the power of money and greed... a race for rent.

No house should ever be on a hill or on anything. It should be of the hill. Belonging to it. Hill and house should live together each the happier for the other. No stream rises higher than its source. What ever man might build could never express or reflect more than he was. He could record neither more nor less than he had learned of life when the buildings were built. Noble life demands a noble architecture for noble uses of noble men. Lack of culture means what it has always meant: ignoble civilization and therefore imminent downfall. Organic architecture seeks superior sense of use and a finer sense of comfort, expressed in organic simplicity. Organic buildings are the strength and lightness of the spiders' spinning, buildings qualified by light, bred by native character to environment, married to the ground. Regard it as just as desirable to build a chicken house as to build a cathedral. Respect the masterpiece. It is true reverence to man. There is no quality so great, none so much needed now. Simplicity and repose are qualities that measure the true value of any work of art. Simplicity and repose are the qualities that measure the true value of any work of art. Space is the breath of art. Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature. It will never fail you. Television is chewing gum for the eyes. The architect must be a prophet... a prophet in the true sense of the term... if he can't see at least ten years ahead don't call him an architect. The architect should strive continually to simplify; the ensemble of the rooms should then be carefully considered that comfort and utility may go hand in hand with beauty. The heart is the chief feature of a functioning mind. The Lincoln Memorial is related to the toga and the civilization that wore it.

The longer I live, the more beautiful life becomes. The mother art is architecture. Without an architecture of our own we have no soul of our own civilization. The physician can bury his mistakes, but the architect can only advise his client to plant vines - so they should go as far as possible from home to build their first buildings. The room within is the great fact about the building. The screech and mechanical uproar of the big city turns the citified head, fill citified ears - as the song of birds, wind in the trees, animal cries, or as the voices and songs of his loved ones once filled his heart. He is sidewalk-happy. The space within becomes the reality of the building. The truth is more important than the facts. There is nothing more uncommon than common sense. "Think simple" as my old master used to say - meaning reduce the whole of its parts into the simplest terms, getting back to first principles. Tip the world over on its side and everything loose will land in Los Angeles. Toleration and liberty are the foundations of a great republic. True ornament is not a matter of prettifying externals. It is organic with the structure it adorns, whether a person, a building, or a park. TV is chewing gum for the eyes. We should have a system of economics that is structure, that is organic tools. We do not have it. We are all hanging by our eyebrows from skyhooks economically, just as we are architecturally.

Well, now that he's finished one building, he'll Le Corbusier go write four books about it.

Why, I just shake the buildings out of my sleeves.

Ludwig Mies Van Der Rohe

A chair is a very difficult object. A skyscraper is almost easier. That is why Chippendale is famous. Architecture is the will of an epoch translated into space. Architecture starts when you carefully put two bricks together. There it begins. God is in the details. I don't want to be interesting. I want to be good. Less is more. Simply by not owning three medium-sized castles in Tuscany I have saved enough money in the last forty years on insurance premiums alone to buy a medium-sized castle in Tuscany.

Rem Koolhaas A new icon is formed... not the predictable two-dimensional tower soaring
skyward but a truly three-dimensional experience.

Any architectural project we do takes at least four or five years, so increasingly there is a discrepancy between the acceleration of culture and the continuing slowness of architecture. Escape from the architecture ghetto is one of the major drivers and has been from the very beginning. I think one of the important evolutions is that we no longer feel compulsively the need to argue, or to justify things on a kind of rational level. We are much more willing to admit that certain things are completely instinctive and others are really intellectual. If you have this reputation you can sit back and endure it, or you can try to do things with it. Influence is a very unpleasant subject and I deal with it in a maybe irresponsible way, which is to really ignore it. It would be a nightmare if we started to really think about it; it would tie our hands, it would tie everyone else's hands. It is definitely a heart-felt, direct and personal engagement. What we are trying to do is re-imagine how Europe can be represented, how it can develop an iconography and a language that in a way re-inspires it.

It's a weird city because the uglier the weather, the more beautiful the city. And the uglier the buildings, the more coherent the city. Not many architects have the luxury to reject significant things. Our office acts like a kind of educational establishment and we are very careful who we educate. Seattle is an extreme of rationalism, Porto is an extreme of irrationalism, and CCTV is somewhere in-between: rational offices but with aesthetics. We wanted to make an unbelievably beautiful building. The areas of consensus shift unbelievably fast; the bubbles of certainty are constantly exploding. The great problem of the concert hall is that the shoebox is the ideal shape for acoustics but that no architect worth their names wants to build a shoebox. The luxury of our position now is that we can almost assemble any team to address any issue. The work in S,M,L,XL was almost suicidal. It required so much effort that our office almost went bankrupt. There is no plateau of resting or stabilising. Once you are interested in how things evolve, you have a kind of never-ending perspective, because it means you are interested in articulating the evolution, and therefore the potential change, the potential redefinition. Usually people in my position are polite about what other architects do, but in this case I find it interesting to really go on the warpath against offices like SOM, KPF or anyone else who is doing huge, thoughtless towers and see what happens. We live in an almost perfect stillness and work with incredible urgency. What we have been successfully doing in the last five years is invading territories where we had not been invited.

Louis Kahn A great building must begin with the unmeasurable, must go through
measurable means when it is being designed and in the end must be unmeasurable.

Architecture is the reaching out for the truth. Consider the momentous event in architecture when the wall parted and the column became. Design is not making beauty, beauty emerges from selection, affinities, integration, love. Every time a student walks past a really urgent, expressive piece of architecture that belongs to his college, it can help reassure him that he does have that mind, does have that soul.

Le Corbusier A house is a machine for living in.


A hundred times have I thought New York is a catastrophe and 50 times: It is a beautiful catastrophe. Architecture is the learned game, correct and magnificent, of forms assembled in the light. I prefer drawing to talking. Drawing is faster, and leaves less room for lies. Space and light and order. Those are the things that men need just as much as they need bread or a place to sleep. The home should be the treasure chest of living. The most beautiful bridge in the world. so pure, so resolute, so regular that here, finally, steel architecture seems to laugh. To create architecture is to put in order. Put what in order? Function and objects. Vehement silhouettes of Manhattan - that vertical city with unimaginable diamonds.