Friday, November 14, 2008

Architecture exempted?

Is my impression correct that contemporary architects, even the most experimental among them, are less subject to the arguments about "popular appeal", "adequate craft" and "beauty" that get regularly thrown at composers? Even more to the point, perhaps, has anyone noticed that architects can get away with appeals to expertise and authority that, when used by composers, would be taken as arrogance. Granted, a work of music doesn't have to fulfill the same practical considerations of a work of architecture (e.g. not fall down, leak, rust, possess reasonable room acoustics etc..) and the realization of architecture is a supremely collaborative enterprise, moreover architects work with millions while we work for petty change, but we do have our professional competencies and have collaborate well with complicated temperaments, so the arguments on expertise should be somewhat limited.


kraig grady said...

Most of the architects i run across no longer even concern themselves with making buildings. They are way more theoretical than composers. Many would be surprised how little money they make, the ones that do anything beside large buildings. even Frank L. Wright made pennies really, but actually wrote some good music, which still pops up in that blood line. Don't forget Xenakis .

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure your impression is correct. Not having followed architecture very closely, I admit, I'm still aware of lots and lots of public complaint about "those ugly modern buildings." This is understandable, I think, because people have to live with public architecture whether they like it or not, whereas contemporary music can easily be ignored if it's not to your taste. The average citizen of Boston, for example, probably has no knowledge or opinion about dodecaphonic symphonies of the 1960s, but they know they hate the "brutalist" City Hall and its sterile concrete plaza, because they have to go there all the time, and many still remember the neighborhood that used to be there.

Daniel Wolf said...

In Germany, and throughout much of Europe, Architects have considerable sway over public construction and there is also intellectual property rights protection on existing structures — for example, the heirs to the architect of the large market hall here in Frankfurt, built in the early 20th century, have considerable influence over the incorporation of that building into the planned new headquarters of the European Central Bank.

On the other hand, once a piece of music has been recorded commercially, it is very difficult for a composer to deny a license for its re-recording, in whole or part, let alone control the actual substance of the "cover."

Anonymous said...

The Devil's Dictionary definition of an architect has always stuck with me: "Engineers who copy each other's mistakes and call it art."

I think architects have to do more behind the scenes wrangling with the owners - the resources needed to build, say, the Seagram building in NYC, are immense. Once a structure is in place - no matter how ugly - there is a natural reluctance for the owners to be critical. Sort of like the way every new baby is beautiful.

I think Europe is fortunate that architects have significant influence. Here in SoCal money talks and real estate developers have carpeted the landscape with suburban sprawl and strip malls.