Old Way of Seeing CL

Jonathan Hale, Author
Jonathan Hale, Author Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH) $24.95 (241p) ISBN 978-0-395-60573-8
Reviewed on: 05/30/1994
Release date: 06/01/1994
In a compelling manifesto that addresses the puzzlement of why new buildings are so often ugly compared to those of earlier eras, Hale, a Boston architect and critic, argues that until around 1830 virtually every building was designed as a composition of interrelated elements in accordance with an age-old tradition of harmony, geometry and adaptation of natural forms. Beginning with the Greek Revival, he contends, this intuitive way of seeing and designing was lost, leading ultimately to the pretension, blandness and downright unattractiveness of most modern architecture. While praising the Bauhaus as a valiant attempt to reintegrate time-honored aesthetic values into the industrialized world, Hale deems the modernist International Style a failure. He proposes Frank Lloyd Wright's organic style as a touchstone for architects seeking to create buildings that are alive and resonant with meaning. This impassioned essay, interspersed with social history, includes scores of photographs of buildings, some of which are overlaid with what Hale calls a pattern of ``regulating lines'' that fit the elements of the design into a proportional system. As he shows, ``Whether the designer knew he was creating the pattern is less important than that the pattern is there.'' Illustrations. (June)
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