My friend the architect Colin Fraser Wishart says that the purpose of his craft is to help people live better. There’s beautiful simplicity, but also enormous gravity in that statement. Just imagine if every public building, city park, urban transportation hub, and home were constructed with the flourishing of humanity - in community or solitude - in mind. Sometimes this is already the case, and we know it when we see it. Our minds and hearts feel more free, we breathe more easily, we are inspired to create things - whether they be new thoughts of something hopeful, or friendships with strangers, or projects that will bring the energy of transformation yet still into the lives of others. If architecture, manifested at its highest purpose, helps us live better, then it is also easy to spot architecture that is divorced from this purpose.
In our internal impressions of a building or other space made to function purely within the boundaries of current economic mythology - especially buildings made to house the so-called “making” of money - the color of hope only rarely reveals itself. Instead we are touched by melancholy, weighed down by drudgery, even compelled by the urge to get away. But when we see the shaping of a space whose stewards seem to have known that human kindness is more important than the free market, that poetry and breathing matter beyond bank balances and competition (a concert hall designed for the purest reflection of sound, a playground where the toys blend in with the trees, a train station where the transition from one place and way of being to another has been honored as a spiritual act), we know that it is possible to always be coming home.
So what will you build today?