Throughout history our most-loved buildings have been simple structures that were beautifully put together and finished with simple human-scaled details that delight the senses. Memorable places have always been created through the arrangement of these simple structures into complete, connected, walkable communities.
As these communities grew into successful economic powerhouses, their architecture also evolved to create rich, elaborate details that exhibited the strength of the city. This culminated with the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris where graduates from the school of architecture went on to produce exuberant buildings and details.
|Simple forms with extravagant details (Madrid, Spain)|
|Simplicity without detail|
When deployed in an auto-oriented suburban context, the fine-grained detail of authentic traditional architecture loses its meaning and is difficult to be appreciated. In response to a suburban context in which buildings are seen from the vantage point of the car and not the pedestrian, complexity and detail move to the wrong scale. In order to catch the attention of the driver, complex forms and details that can be perceived from a distance are produced. Thus we end up with buildings that have a complex massing, but details that are simply not scaled properly for the delight of people walking by.
|Artificial complexity scaled to the automobile|
|Complicated forms overwhelm pedestrian environments|
|Complexity without detail|
|Authentic simplicity in Troy, NY|
|Authentic simplicity in Key West, FL|
|Authentic simplicity in Nantucket, MA|