We came across a picture and had no idea what is was, where it was, or who took the photograph. All we could do was stare at the thing and wonder. Was it good? We couldn't really decide. Was it real? We couldn't really tell, but hoped that it was.
The thing didn't look particularly innovative to us, though it did appear to be trying. It was big, or perhaps more accurately, it aspired to bigness. It was awkward, willfully so, a couple of disparate parts cobbled together. It was almost normal, boring even. But just barely, it slipped into the territory of the deranged. Certainly it was ambitious-behold, the new trampling the old!
In any event, the thing seemed ... a bit out of control. Somehow a very basic idea had run away from the architect who conceived it. Buildings lead strange, uncontrollable lives after their creators give them life. Sometimes they are accepted by the world, either immediately or after an occasionally painful adjustment period. Sometimes they run amok. Sometimes, the villagers fight back with wrecking balls and fire.
Suddenly, it occurred to us: we were looking at a Monster. And yes, we liked it.
Intentionally or not, in many ways this thing - this monster - is architecture today.
Big. Heterodox. Monumental. Ambitious. Soft. Dumb. Uncontrollable. Hybrid. Mutated. Random. Confused. Beautiful. Growing. Trampling. Ugly. Searching. New. Unfamiliar. Awkward. Reanimated. Undead. Mismatched. Misdirected. Hopeful.
Much like the book you now hold in your hands ...
-Perspecta 40, published by MIT Press
The text you've just read is the introduction to The Yale Architectural Journal, Pespecta 40. In 2008 when I purchased this book, not because I was searching for architectural discourse. I was in in fact searching for graphic design inspiration for my annual archive series...that's a different story.
As I flipped through, I saw everything from brilliant graphic design, photographs of 19th century Rome, interviews, architectural plans, to illegible(to me) Japanese drawings. While interesting, I wasn't sold on the book until I saw a photograph of Dulles Airport Terminal, taken by Erza Stoller - it changed me. Growing up in the Washington DC area I flew in and out of Dulles Airport many times - never having seen the structure, the design of the airport quite so beautifully as Stoller captured it. From that moment, I understood the importance of the architectural photographer and how their work was critical to the presentation of architecture.
Since then I've read the book cover to cover several times. Its articles, conversations, and presentation of architectural ideas remain with me as some of the most important influences of my understanding of architecture and in my work as an architectural photographer.