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Architecture: Art and Science Author(s): Charles W. Moore Source: Journal of Architectural Education (1947-1974), Vol. 19, No.

4 (Jun., 1965), pp. 53-56 Published by: Taylor & Francis, Ltd. on behalf of the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture, Inc. Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1424258 . Accessed: 22/10/2013 08:30
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events in subsequenttimes. Thus, even in the second half of the twentieth century we naively act out the scenario written for our great-grandfathers. The socalled traditionalists have followed the pattern of political history. They have been concerned principally with the English colonies and the dominantly northern and puritan prototypes,neglecting for serious consideration the more ecologically sensitive architectureof the French and the Spanish which, as a lesson in adaptive form, has equal if not even more significance. Political and social institutions tend to change with the times, but their architecturalsymbols, at least to an influential majority of citizens, remain fixed and critically out of focus. Thus, the youthful and progressivePresident Kennedy builds an imitation colonial house; and the Federal government squanders millions on a new Congressional office building in a vain attempt to justify poor planning by a senseless rejuggling of Ionic porticoes. These examples are cited as symbolic of a nationwidepublic attitude.Clearly, we need a new scenario-a new history of architecturewhich will explain the timebinding principlesof form-that our historicalbuildings are expressiveof a very special way of life tied to its period and place in Louisiana,Texas, Arizona, New Mexico or California as well as New England and Virginia. The intrinsic qualities we admire stem from the uniqueness: the special flavor given by people, place and time. But this undeniablecharm of original historicalbuildingsin their settings continues to be vulgarized through mechanized parodies from one end of the country to the other. When the schools, the architects and the professional journals can straighten out this kind of perversion of history we will have the basis for a concept of modern architecturebroad enough to encourage an infinitevariety of compatibletheory. Fashions we shall continue to have, but they will be minor and interestingfluctuationsof dominantarchitectural forms that have relevance to contemporaryAmeri-

can society no longer afraid or ashamed of what BenjaminPolk has called "the rootednessof spirit." The Present Need Our recognition of the accelerationof technological and social change suggests that we in the schools of architectureplace a new and somewhat different kind of emphasis upon historical studies-especially in America. Lacking the slower pace of an earlier time which enabled our ancestorsto sift, sample, test and either reject or absorbthe vital ideas contributed by our most creative architects and critics, we too have been dashing on from one fashionable set of innovations to another leaving unexploredpotentials along the way. In our haste to be avant-garde, we tend to lose any useful continuitywith the best of our own traditions, and thus we have no other effective way of building the cumulative sense of values needed for the growing complexity of decisions confronting us. Instead, we try to acquire our values vicariously from those who do, we believe, have roots in their own set of traditions-the visiting critic. Like hothouse plants, our students are temporarilystimulated under controlled conditions by exotic fertilizer. If we are to shake off this kind of provincialeducationalinferiority we shall need to take the time, continuously, to re-examine our own physical and cultural environment, our own historicalroots, however modest they may be. We face three major problems vis-a-vis historical values today, when values are no longer transmitted directly from one generation to another within our society: first, the difficulty of recognizing the temporal context (occasion) within which any set of architecturalideas have flourished in the past; second, the sifting from this earlier context whatever constituent principles that still have validity within the rapidly changing contemporaryscene; third, the application of these principles, uninhibited by the transitoryfashions of the day.

Architecture-Art and Science


by Charles W. Moore, University of California Is architecture an art or a science? Every generation since the Renaissance, when the question first became meaningful, has had its answer-though owing to the changing meanings of the terms art and science, the same answers have not always meant the same thing. Our generation answers: Both. And Mr Moore, who is chairman of the Department of Architecture at Berkeley, is no exception. But his reasons as given at an ACSA fall conference are not the usual ones.

These remarks are addressed to consideration of architectureas an art and as a science because art and science have been representedfor several gen-

erations as being at odds, and because I think an understandingof them depends on an illumination not of the differencesbetween art and science but of their common purpose: to overcome chaos. Since the odds against the success of this joint enterprise are staggering, the two seek success by different routes. The scientist tries to marshalbits of information (bits of the chaos to which his intuition leads him) in sufficient quantity to detect a pattern of order, then works on, using his creative intuitions, his hunches, his point of view, to relate the patterns he has found to other patterns of order contained within them or within which they are contained. 53

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Journal of Architectural Education

Thus the frontier with chaos is pushed back, sometimes along broad fronts. The artist works on a smaller scale and strikes deeper into enemy territory-as frogmen do in the movies. His method is to simulate reality (which is mostly chaos) in a way which capsulatesit, captures it and orders it, so that he has set up a substitutefor reality which is under control or, as T. S. Eliot says, imposes "a credible order upon reality, to give a perceptionof an order in reality."This, you object, is magic, like dancing for rain, or sticking pins in dolls, or praying;but this is what the artist does, this is how he helps rout the forces of chaos. His powers and his techniquesare those of the scientist: creative intuitions, hunches, the strength of a point of view, the triumph of unrelentinglabor. Architecture as Taking Possession . . . Architecture, we have collectively decided, is a science and an art. This being the case, of what is it made? Within what limits does it operate?What are the bits that get organized by the architect-scientist, or have their organizationsimulatedby the architectartist? Is architecturesculpture you can get inside of? Or frozen music? Or the creation of shelter against the elements? Or the definitionof spaces? It might more usefully be described as the making of places or, as Suzanne Langer styles it, the creation of an ethnic domain. We take possession, in our own names and in that of our society, of portions of the earth's surface and then, as architectureis an art-and insofar as it is an art-we subject that act of taking possession to some degree of abstraction, in some of the same ways that a playwrightabstracts events and human relationshipsin order that the abstraction might have some meaning beyond the events and relationshipsthemselves. Birds, it is said, sing not for the joy of the morning nor for the beauty of the song but in order to establish possession of that area in which the sound of their voice can be heard, to set up, acoustically, a place and to establish that as the domain of themselves and their mates. Man, in a variety of ways hopefully more subtle and complex, similarly takes possession of what he can, making a piece of the world his own as the playwright makes life his own. Indonesian dancers do it, within the space definableby the human body. Architecturally,one way to do this is to make a microcosm of the naturalworld, to make that world our own by arrangingit to our own design. Some famous homes of Chinese poets, for example, are said to have been carefully sited in relation to a perfect piece of countryside,say a meadow perfectly round. Similarly, some famous homes of California architects take possession through their glass walls of a grove or a garden or a panorama. 54

...

and as Abstraction

The microcosm of nature can be abstractedfurther, as in the famous sand gardens of Japan, like Ryoanji, which with fifteen rocks on a rectangle of sand the size of a tennis court are everything or nothing, as they seem to be the pattern of the universe, or the sea with islands, or a river with rocks, or tiger cubs crossing a stream, or turtles, or just stones. In the same way, man abstracts shelter as first he makes tents which shield him from the elements and then forever recalls those tents in pavilions, as in an Indian palace, in a walled enclosure where his old arrangementsare recalled but controlled. Man also engages himself in the abstraction of the cosmic order, as shows up in the temples of southeastAsia like Angkor Wat, which develop from a center out of four axes past concentric rings of temple in an embodiment of that Mount Sumeru which stands in the middle of seven concentric seas separatedby concentric mountain ranges and is the heartland of the Buddhist heaven. Or there is the order-less cosmic, more national-in Peking, where walls within walls like the peelable layers of an onion are cut throughwith a single axis which once made comprehensibleand magnificently impressive the great national bureaucratic hierarchy.The architects of Versailles similarly knew what they were doing when they orderedtheir great system of radial axes converging on the bedroom of the Sun King. And the Byzantine dome, too, at once abstracts and is the physical embodiment of the dome of heaven. Our abstraction may be a simple marker or a piece of the field marked off from the rest like a piazza in the Mediterraneancountries, sharing the out-of-doorsand a part of them, not like a cave, yet carefully distinguishedfrom the relatively undeveloped fields of which man has not taken possession in just the same way, so that the piazza becomes the special place where the activities of a human society might happen, where minds might meet in an environmentunder human control. It would seem that this concern with taking possession, and with abstractingthis act of taking possession, is a broad enough one to be fairly simple and readily capable of consummation;yet we ourselves make an incredible mess when we put together buildings and architects enough to make a campus or a world's fair or a demonstrationpiece of urban renewal: inevitably, almost, the buildings demonstrateno basis for taking possession, no coherent direction, no point of view, no anything that makes the whole more than a janglingsum of disparate parts. And the land, the only land we have to make a place on, to take possessionof, is quickly being sub-

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merged under the endless thoughtless gray suburbs, the Haywards and the San Joses and the Orange Counties and the Phoenixes. We seem uncertain, as we take possession and perhaps as we abstract this act, who is taking possession and what this possession consists of. The problem is that the artist, like the scientist, is a combatantin the war againstchaos, and his presence is required somewhere near the front lines. In the years after the first blush of the Italian Renaissance,architectslike Palladio designed churcheswith centralplans and places with harmonic number systems of dimensioningin an endeavor to resonate with the harmony of the spheres, the better to serve the most important ends they knew of. In this endeavorthese architectswere close to the aspirations of great men in other fields: mathematicians and divines. All this is submitted in opposition to the notion that architecturetaken as an art instead of a science is distinguished by the one being pretty and the other being plain, by the one being "fun" while the other is hard work, by the one being loose while the other is tight, by the one being cultural while the other is technical;and it is certainlyin opposition to the suppositionthat architecturethe art has something to do with taste, while architecturethe science deals in facts. Art is not art, I would submit, unless it is acting on the frontiers of knowledge or past those frontiers, out in the realm of chaos, where it can work its magic and simulate order (and remember, simulating order does not necessarily mean lining everythingup, like redcoats in the face of the Indians). This seems to indicate that before we look to produce art or artists, we should try to find out where the frontiers of knowledge are. Problems or Puzzles? In the schools this suggests a series of reforms. Sim Van der Ryn, of the Berkeley faculty, makes the distinction between a problem and a puzzle. Most so-called architectural "problems,"he points out, are really puzzles: someone gives you the pieces (eg, 500 sq ft for the cloak room) and you figure out a way to put them together. In a real problem you have to figure out what the pieces are; this involves knowing something. As in science or in art, you must assemble, generally,bits of informationso numerous that only a developed point of view, a creative-intuitive capacity will suffice to give you direction. The form-giving is then seen to be only a small part of a process which starts with the discovery of pieces somewhereout on the edge of chaos which can work together into the puzzle and ends with the kind of careful evaluation of the product which would seem to be an absolute requirement of any design process organized to the point of being transmittable,but is almost nonexistentin architecture, either in practice or in the schools. Even so, the problem in an architecturalschool is more difficult than just identifying, examining, manipulating and testing the pieces, important as they are, which limit and shape our architecture, granting that they must be understood far better than we understand them yet, that the problems

must be much more clearly defined than we have defined them yet if our architectureis to be really responsive and the architect really responsible. Undone as this first task is, the source of further difficulty, of course, is that an architecturalproblem is not ordinarilylike the solution to a set of simultaneous equations, automatically solved by getting the pieces in the proper relation and then letting the system roll. Those of us who have ever been anywhere near Louis Kahn, and many who haven't, are fond of talking about letting a building be "what it wants to be." The building, of course, doesn't "want to be" anything. The architectwants it to be something and the phrase is there to serve as a reminder, really, that it is the architect as responsibleagent of our society and not the architect as unattached "artist"whose wants are of any interest or importance. The crux of the architect'sproblem and the school of architecture's problemis that the separatedeterminants of architecture,crucial as it is to recognize them, do not always, or even often, add up to determine one inevitable answer, but conflict; and it is up to someone-the architect-to establish emphases, priorities, hierarchiesto make an intelligent determinationof what overrideswhat. Here's where the existence of a point of view becomes important and it is here that the architect functions not only as a calculator,but as a responsibleagent of society, the inheritor of what it has, has been and is. Here is, of course, the whole point of having a school of architecture in the university-for a set of values for whose establishmentthe university can set the stage and for an understandingof the society, as well as for the imputation of moral significance which will enlist the attention of intelligent people as no set of techniques devoid of this significance can do. From a real education then, in a university, we might hope it would come about that the point of view that marshals these disparate pieces that we've been talking about into order, and from that into art, would be more than a naive and thoughtless personal one but would belong to the architect as the knowing, thoughtful, responsible agent of society. The Curriculum:Pieces and Point of View How do we do this? How do we organize an orderly introduction of the discoverable pieces of knowledge and techniques and make in the curriculum a chance to test and develop these pieces of knowledge and techniques without giving the spurious impressionthat these are discrete and unrelated manifestations? How do we, that is, provide the pieces, the facts and techniques, at the same time the student is developing the capacity and the point of view to order them, illuminatedby the realization that the pieces are not all there yet and the product won't have a chance really to be architectureuntil they are? We would not admire a medical school where people in their first year operated on others in order that they might get the feel of it; where they, upon learning, say something about veins, would disguise themselves as doctors and go about 55

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Journal of ArchitecturalEducation

pulling out and fixing peoples' vascular systems with minimum regard for the attachments of these systems. Similarly,it may well be that playing architect from an early point in the curriculumhas no real place as part of the school process. Perhaps a useful comparisonwould be the developmentof oriental calligraphers.In Japan and China the way a poem looks-the way the brush strokes combine, the quality of the space between the brush strokes and the quality of the strokes themselves, and the artist's respect for the medium, brush and ink, which make the characters of the short poem, are as important as what the poem is talking about. In the training of the calligrapher,then, I expect, it must be that at the same time that the skills are being developed to make possible the visible presentationof a poem so the thoughtprocessesare being developedin order that the poem might have something to say. Something like this-some process of figuring out how to do the increasinglycomplex things that we need to do requiring more and more technical skill and capacity, with the development of the knowledge of what to do with these skills and why to do them, as in the making of the Orientalpoem, is certainly going to be required with much more rigorous standardsthan we have yet dared apply. So perhaps we could help return some sense to this process of taking possession of a place (a process that so often now seems so complicated and so pointless), figur-

ing out who is doing this and in whose name (the people's, the property owner's, the developer's, the tax collector's, the government's?) and what it is that needs to be done quite preciselyand specifically, as well as in the clearest and simplest general terms. We ask, then, how to do this. I don't know and I don't know of anyone who does. But I think with our increasing attention to the clarity and precision of the knowablepieces, and with an unrelentingconcern to make students responsible,faculty responsible and the profession far more responsiblethan it is now to the needs of the whole society, we are on the way. I think that we can do it by findingout how to develop the pieces of an architecturaleducation, then how to introduce them into a curriculum and how to make it very clear that these pieces are only pieces subservient to the developed point of view of the educated agent of the society: the architect. I think that if we can start from the knowable and maintain a responsiblehumility, we may yet be in a position to create not just the rare architecturalgem in the worsening mess but to make an environment on earth as responsible, as rigorously judgable, as exacting and as exciting as the efforts that are about to take us to the moon and beyond. If architecture as a science is out on the frontier of chaos with the rest of science, then I think we can expect that architectureas an art will be out beyond that, where it will have to make some potent magic to survive.

Considering Architecture?
by Olindo Grossi, Pratt Institute

Architectureis so special a calling that even to enter a school of architectureas a freshman student is a big step-and a step which, if taken inadvisedly,can lead to the waste of more time than either the student or his instructorscan well spare. How to reduce to a minimum the number of students who take the step inadvisedly is a problem confronting every school. Here Dean Grossi describes a program designed to that end which has been in successful operation at Pratt Institute for the past fourteen years. schools reach How can architectsand architectural high school seniors who are vaguely interested in studying architecture?This question has concerned professionalsfor many years. Some lecture and advise at career days held by high schools. A nearby chapter runs a design problem for six weeks in local 56

high schools, and a chapter in the Midwest is planning similar activities next year. For the student, direct contact with professionals is imperative. Only through confrontation with the professionalis he able to separate romantic notions from a more realistic appraisal. Without it, all he can do is talk it over with his guidance counselors and parents. Architecture remains an unknown-one option among many professions-which the high school student may decide to pursue, and this is a precarious circumstancefor young people about to make a lifetime decision. At Pratt, accordingly, we have tried to correct the situation by conducting what is known as High School Competition Day-a program which we have been told helps serve this need. The name itself is correct in that prizes are

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