Making Architecture
Project Criteria
The making of architecture, as distinguished from mere building, is a complex task that requires intense collaboration among a large number of people over an extended period of time.
If at any time during this process a major player breaks the covenant and attempts to work for unilateral advantage, the entire project is put at risk.
Architecture is the expression of the values of those who build it. The result cannot be faked. TANSTAAFL. Because the making of architecture is a complex task and because it involves so many issues of various kinds: technical, logistical, financial, social, personal - integrity is the key ingredient for success; and, in our culture, the aspect most likely to be compromised.
Years ago, I made up my mind that I wanted to produce architecture. I am not interested in making buildings. I do not care so much about the size or “importance” of the project; I care about its quality and what it is like to experience living and working within this particular expression of human art.
Neither circumstance nor budget determines if architecture is created, competence and integrity does. Of the two integrity is far more rare than raw ability.
In the making of architecture all of the parties can be exposed to considerable risk. The way the game is usually played is to attempt to shift liability to one another. All the conventions and contracts are written with this aim in mind. This consumes a great portion of the energy and resources that could be spent on the work. It makes work too expensive. It promotes dishonestly and cheating and the final result reflects this broken social paradigm.
These notes outline the elements that must be in place if a project is to have a chance of becoming architecture. This is intended to be a guide to making architecture and a filter - criteria for selecting work and setting the terms for doing it. If you do not really want to make architecture it is far better not to begin the journey than to fail along the path. Architecture has a price. In this sense, it is expensive. It requires an unusual level of thought, hard work, attention to detail, imagination, cooperation and the overcoming of a series of status quo barriers designed to dumb everything down to a common expression rather than the creation an unique act of genius. Many would like to have architecture - both client and architect alike. It seems that few are willing to pay the price necessary for actually making it. A better understanding of what is required and an adequate social covenant will reduce the risks - and thus costs - considerably.
I wrote the above words in February 2003. I do not remember what specific circumstance stimulated me to do so. This period was at the beginning of an abrupt increase in the number of projects Taylor Architecture has been asked to do. From 1952 through 2002, I list 116 Projects in my Architectural Index [link: architectural index]. As of these comments, in mid May of 2006, the list has grown to 151 with three more about ready to be added. These 35 projects constitute a great increase in design activity with three years representing over 23 percent of the total over a 54 year span. Of course, now there is more than just me doing design work. This number, however, is an accurate reflection of the general acceptance of my approach to architecture. It will also be noted that several of these projects are the same commission which has been designed two and even three times caused by the client completely changing the parameters of the work. This also is relevant to the topic at hand and is not an unusual circumstance. A few of the projects are of our own making and this reflects our determination to build for ourselves not just for others. The fact that we may be able to do so and may have to do so to house our enterprise is a measure of the same circumstance that this work is beginning to be made real.

Matt Taylor
February 15, 2003



SolutionBox voice of this document:


posted February, 2003
revised May 19, 2006

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(note: this document is about 15% finished)

Matt Taylor 615 525 7053

Copyright© Matt Taylor 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006



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