Have you ever wondered what makes a building good architecture? I often asked myself this question especially when I walk through cities and towns.
There is an academic definition of what make a building good piece of architecture. The Roman architect Vitruvius in his treatise on architecture, “De Architectura”, wrote that there were three principles of good architecture:
- Firmatis (Durability) – It should stand up robustly and remain in good condition.
- Utilitas (Utility) – It should be useful and function well for the people using it.
- Venustatis (Beauty) – It should delight people and raise their spirits.
Architecture like art and music is subjective. What one person likes others might dislike. But unlike art and music, we live and work in architecture. Think about how much time you spend in architecture?
I propose a fourth principle for good architecture: a sense of wanting to be there. If you like being in a particular building then it is good architecture.
Having worked in NYC all my life, which is the heart of architecture, Grand Central Terminal is one of the few buildings that I think can be added to my list of good architecture. Why? First it answers the first 3 principles of Vitruvius and fourth it makes me want to be there. I have spent hours just standing watching people, walking through the terminal or running to catch a train. There is such an air of electricity it makes you stop for a moment and wonder. That is good architecture….
What are your favorite buildings?