An Homage to the Canon

| February 27th, 2013

With the school’s increased emphasis on travel and field trips, we now have more and more opportunity to see the Canon of Architecture in person. So how do we handle this? How do we show our respect and admiration for these works we have studied, memorized, diagramed, emulated, and loved? I am not speaking of the Iconic – the places our grandparents have heard of or that initially draw students to study Architecture. I am speaking of the lesser known to the general public, the works that have slowly shifted the field in ways only those who study it know. The small revolutions that led to late night revelation in studio or an increasing awe for the built environment…


The following are a few options to consider in our pilgrimages to design:

-Uncontrollable Enthusiasm.

One part ‘I know about this and you don’t!’ and ‘My God, I was not expecting to see that!’ Exuberance, however, can fade or quickly be transferred to the next work down the hall.
Symptoms: Flushed, red face. Jumping or bouncing. Shouting the facts we know about the work, even when no one is listening.

-Quiet Contemplation.

‘I remember my Professor’s deep admiration for this Architect, but never understood that until I saw this. There must be some secret hidden behind the black granite panels.’
Symptoms: Meandering around looking like we understand the work, when we actually don’t. Speculation.

-Overwhelming Humility

‘This building, that so many walk by without a thought, changed the way I view Architecture. Even if the security guard is a grouch…’
Symptoms: Focused photography balanced by silent meditation as we relearn what we were once taught.


‘I can’t believe the Architect once stood here, where I am now! I hope some of his greatness will rub off on me!’
Symptoms: Touching or even licking the work. A desire to have some of the mysteries of great design be transferred to you.


‘Take my picture in front of this so I can tag myself on Facebook! Who designed this again? It’s famous right?’
Symptoms: Taking unfocused, ‘hipster’ pictures to be uploaded to Instagram.

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