From CREATING INTELLECTUAL COMMUNITIES, Volume 1, Number 2, 2007
The “isms” of the past 25 years – from postmodernism to deconstructionism – have thankfully faded to the background. As architecture, planning, and design become more influenced by sustainability, invention, and a respect for context, new levels of quality are appearing. Architects are creating buildings that do not rely on style but rather on craft and discovery. Our focus on substance is even more critical as we are asked to consider such global issues as transportation, population and physical growth, water resources, and the environment.
There is a unifying element that we employ as we strive to solve challenges ranging from a growing campus in Arizona to the design of a new residence hall in Florida. The one thing that absolves the broad array of problems we are asked to answer is the transcendental power of design. And as the “isms” of the past are left behind, what has emerged is a principle I call balanced beauty. Balanced beauty is a fundamental and transcendent part of our lives. Catching a solo by John Coltrane or the glimpse of a ship sailing into Baltimore’s harbor beautifully lifts our soul.
So does studying the plan of Villa à Garches or discovering Jefferson’s sublime skylight design at Monticello. All of these beautiful experiences rely on elements both sensory and technical.
Conceiving and capturing this kind of balanced beauty in the things we design is the goal of our firm. Strengthening this is our belief that a beautiful object, a beautiful building, a beautiful environment has greater inherent value for society than one less beautiful. Balanced beauty is in essence an added value to what all our clients seek.
We believe that when our clients engage us, they are not merely asking us to solve a pragmatic problem; they are also buying harmony, balance, proportion – qualitative aspects that should exceed the expectations of mere function and shelter. These solutions should comprehensively combine beauty and function, while striving to respect nature and the environment. It is then a combination of many things – some qualitative and some quantitative, some pragmatic and some spiritual – that defines balanced beauty. And we believe that achieving balanced beauty is a noble goal, for one’s quality of life is largely determined by the inherent beauty of our society’s buildings, grounds, campuses, and cities.