University of British Columbia



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    Technology and art

    David Zeibin
    Oct 17, '04 4:45 AM EST

    I just finished reading Why Buildings Stand Up by Mario Salvadori. It's a fairly playtime-esque intro to structural engineering, but it does have some interesting bits about how certain historic structures were conceived, designed and built, such as the pyramids, the Eiffel Tower, and the Hagia Sophia cathedral.

    Anyhow, the reason I mention this is because Salvadori has a couple moments I appreciate. One I posted in an Archinect post somewhere else, but I post it here again for posterity:

    "When we look at a growing skyscraper from the construction viewpoint, we forget that its composer and conductor, who at all times orchestrates the performance of the work, is the architect. He is the creator of the building and the leader of the team. To him goes the glory and the total responsibility, to the owner, to the occupants and, above all, to the public. Architecture is today one of the most exciting and creative professions in the world and so complex that few become recognized as great architects at the end of their career. Artist and technician, leader of men and expert in the everchanging fields of finance and politics, the architect is perhaps the greatist humanist in our complex and at times chaotic societies." (pg 116)

    And another, which was what prompted this post:

    "It may be surprising to realize, at the end of this rapid excursion through the field of architectural structures, that such a highly technological field has contributed and will contribute to our innate need for beauty. To those of us who cannot live without beauty, this is an encouraging thought. The separation of technology and art is both unnecessary and incorrect; one is not an enemy of the other. Instead it is essential to understand that technology is often a necessary component of art and that art helps technology to serve man better. Nowhere is this more true than in architecture and structure, a marriage in which science and beauty combine to fulfill some of the most basic physical and spiritual needs of humanity." (pg 302)

    With the everpresent 90-hour school weeks right now, it's superficially inspriing quotes like these that help me keep my head on straight.

    Thanks for reading,


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