“Architecture is my delight” – Mr. Jefferson
Architecture is art that we live in, and art that has the permanence of years. It has the power to profoundly affect our lives and is an enduring symbol of the good (or bad) that our minds can create.
Everyone has lived in that horrible basement apartment- some of us in grad school, some of us during one of those charming ‘unpaid but very valuable’ internships, and for some unfortunates that apartment is home. What about it was horrible? Was it the lack of windows? The awkward room arrangement? The single tiny bathroom where you had to tuck your knees under the sink to sit on the bog? Maybe it was the fluorescent lighting or the laminate countertops or the cheap steel fixtures.
Then, for the lucky ones, you edged up the financial ladder and found something that made you happier, with lots of light and pleasing aesthetics and gee, room to move around. It’s amazing how much our living space contributes to our overall happiness and well-being.
I am an architectural historian and it was this fascination with the effect of architecture on happiness that propelled me past the lucrative professions of business, medicine, and law to that bastion of the unemployed perpetual student: history. More than anything else (art, monuments, landscapes), buildings are a uniquely human expression of how we live, what we feel, and what we aspire to become. We influence design by our desires, even if we personally don’t draw the plans or mortar the bricks.
Because of this deep connection to who we are as humans, architecture that represents a particularly wonderful expression of the art should be preserved so that others might learn and share in the ‘delight’. I imagine Mr Jefferson was tickled pink that people thought Monticello was such a treasure and named it a World Heritage Site, but he didn’t exactly come up with the design all by himself. (Sorry UVA alumni, I know that’s sacrilege) He borrowed heavily from designs by Palladio, L’Enfant, and others that gave him delight and used them to come up with a building where he felt at home.
My professional raison d’etre is to find delightful buildings, share them with others, and if I can, do something to make sure they’re at least recorded if not preserved for posterity. Join me for posts about anything and everything architectural history, and for a daily dose follow me on Instagram @ preservationarchitect.
Donate! Keep the PresArch traveling and documenting and reveling in delight!