beauty

An Architect's Opinion About Durability, Utility and Beauty

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An architect needs to maintain a delicate balance of durability, utility and beauty when working on a building. These elements need to mix seamlessly together to make something that will endure well for many years.

One part of durability is about having timelessness to a building. Timelessness is something an architect always strives for. It is important not to look back on at a building and think, "That was the style or image that everybody wanted back in 2010." An architect wants to look back at a building and think, "It still stands on its own even if it was designed 10 years ago. If something like that was designed today, it would have the same impact as it did 10 years ago." Many times, durability means having something that stands on its own after a long time.

Durability also means thinking about how to help clients maintain the project after it is completed. This is a conversation that an architect needs to have with every client. Every building needs maintenance. There is no question about it. When an architect is designing a building, drawing it, and specifying all the materials, there is always a concern about the budget. All decisions have to be made with that budget in mind. Part of an architect's job is to specify different materials and list all the pros and cons. Clients need to know that if they choose a less costly material, they could be replacing it more frequently than if they chose a material that costs a little more initially. Clients have to be willing to accept certain trade-offs.

Utility is more like a function of the building. The building needs to work 100 percent for a client. An architect cannot just get it 99 percent right. It is important that the design of the structure does not impede the efficiency of the employees. Eventually those little efficiencies add up and hurt a client's bottom line.

Beauty is about artistic expression. The old phrase, "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder," really applies here. The priority for an architect is to make sure the client likes the overall look and feel. Other people may or may not like it, but it is important to make sure the client is happy when the project is completed.

Durability, utility and beauty are equally important when designing a building. Successfully balancing these elements is what makes a lasting statement in architecture.

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