Fall 2009 • Vol. XXXI No. 4 NonfictionOctober 1, 2009 |

Challenge and Comfort

An excerpt from the forthcoming Why Architecture Matters Architecture begins to matter when it goes beyond protecting us from the elements, when it begins to say something about the world—when it begins to take on the qualities of art. You could say that architecture is what happens when people build with an awareness that they are doing something that reaches at least a little bit beyond the practical. It may be as tiny a gesture as painting the front door of a house red or as grand an undertaking as creating the rose window of a cathedral. It can be as casual as a sliver of decorative molding around a window or as carefully wrought as the ceiling of a Baroque church. A clapboard farmhouse with a columned porch is architecture; so is a house by Frank Lloyd Wright in which every inch of every wall, every window, and every door is part of an elaborately considered composition. Wright liked to say that architecture began when he started building his sprawling modern houses on the

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