Saturday, December 25, 2004


Architects pride themselves on having broader scope, more multifaceted and omniverous interests and sources, than the general run of folk. That hasn't prevented the academy as constructed in the US from keeping them mostly hemmed in, fascinated with their own specialization, conveniently forgetting that the point was about humans and spaces in general. As the Tutor knows, one can become too enamoured of one's discipline and dumpster.

A dear friend some time ago pointed me to Samuel Mockbee, who seems to have not forgotten what his profession was supposed to profess:
There are over 100 schools of architecture in the United States. If every school were to do just one project a year, you'd have 100 wonderful pieces of architecture. But you have to have the faith that the students can do it. Academia and the profession are too incestuous. They're pussyfooting around and babbling about environment and health and code issues. It's about going out and doing it, and all that other stuff will work itself out. From a 2001 interview in Salon.
Mockbee's work in rural Alabama produced the sort of thing that, given the way things are going, we will eventually acknowledge as necessary: A house that is not a clone, that works, that possesses dignity, and can be built with recycled matter at a cost of approximately $30,000.

Mockbee, who died of leukemia in 2001, spoke of creating a "shelter for the soul."

The thing about necessity is, it doesn't take visitors from afar to reveal it: It is what we would see if we weren't so busy pussyfooting. The trick is to recognize her before she exacts her due.


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