Making the Garden by Christopher Alexander | Articles | First Things

The whole purpose of the work I have done is to show that the presence of God in a matter-­configuration is an objectively existing condition, and that there are specific paths and methods and habits of thought through which we may create buildings where the presence of God can be seen and felt. The two go hand in hand. …. That new vision can become a new source of inspiration and motivation. I call it new not because it is at root genuinely new. Of course it is not—it is ancient. But it is entirely new in our era to…

An Appreciation of Craftsmanship: the American College of Building Arts

We often hear talk of how things are not as they used to be and how our youth does not work as hard as we once did.  Charleston has many institutions that put the lie to this myth and not least among them is the American College of the Building Arts.  Wherever our work allows we support their graduates in their work, especially in those years post graduation as they are working to build their client base.  One such project was recently completed for the dining room of our offices at 95 Broad Street. Two, new American white oak dining tables, built with hand-forged iron…

Pittsburgh’s Gothic Legacy by Catesby Leigh, City Journal Autumn 2015

The Cathedral of Learning is … a cherished landmark and a sobering reminder of the humanistic path not taken in the design of tall buildings in the postwar era. Along with the fine Pittsburgh churches erected by Cram and kindred spirits, it testifies to an enlightened artistic outlook that, over two generations, accommodated informed emulation of past achievements along with sound innovation—all to the enrichment of the nation’s architectural patrimony. Source: Pittsburgh’s Gothic Legacy by Catesby Leigh, City Journal Autumn 2015

Why Do Old Places Matter? Economics – Preservation Leadership Forum Blog

In writing this series of essays about why old places matter, I have intentionally saved the discussion of how old places support a sustainable and vibrant economy to the last. Why? Because the other fundamental reasons for keeping, using, reusing and preserving old places are given short shrift, and professional preservationists often jump right to the argument that saving old places is economically beneficial, assuming that the economic argument is the only one decision-makers will want to hear. But it seems to me that starting a discussion about the importance of saving an old place with the economic rationale, immediately…

Building A Timeless House in an Instant Age by Brent Hull | Kirkus

KIRKUS REVIEW Hull (Traditional American Rooms, 2003) celebrates the lost art of thoughtful home construction. We don’t build houses like we used to. The craftsmanship central to generations of construction is largely absent in modern homebuilding, which has become more concerned with creating a mass-produced product at a predetermined price. Hull takes readers through the evolution of our views on home construction: what was once valued, what is valued now, and what things most people don’t ever think about. The book includes explanations of the shifting architectural trends in residences, from Enlightenment-era builders finding inspiration in antiquity to European-style houses…

On Sustainability | At Home & Afield

On the surface, sustainability with regards to building appears to be a very straight forward subject; if a building is built of materials that are readily and locally available, renewable, culturally relevant, and has minimal environmental impact; and, it is built to last a hundred, two hundred; let’s say, even a thousand years, then the building is a sustainable structure. A 2004 survey, The Actual Service Lives of North American Buildings noted that the average life of a building in North America is about 30 years, which, by any standard, is not very sustainable.  The study found that the largest…

Westminster Abbey wins permission to add first new tower in 300 years | Art and design | The Guardian

Westminster Abbey has won planning permission to add its first new tower in almost 300 years, which will create public access to a museum of treasures and curiosities housed in the triforium, the church’s attic gallery. At present, the public can get only a distant glimpse of the spectacular and shadowy space through the stone arches 70ft up at the top of the walls above the high altar. The only way in is a perilous journey up narrow spiral staircases and along ledge-like passages high above the nave. The spectacular but vertigo-inducing view down to the altar and nave has…

My role in de-skilling the arts | J. E. Johnson

David Pye avoided the word “skill” in his broadly influential book, The Nature and Art of Workmanship, preferring instead two more narrowly defined terms: the workmanship of certainty where “every operation during production has been predetermined and is outside the control of the operative” and the workmanship of risk where quality is determined by “care, judgment, and dexterity.”[3] More and more our studio depends upon the workmanship of certainty as we aspire less and less toward the workmanship of risk. So to compensate for our students insufficient care, judgment, and dexterity we have – like the proverbial boiled frog –…