Architecture as Inspiration

As I walked around Chicago last week I found myself looking up.  The buildings are tall and dramatic and command attention.  They reflect, they shine, they tower, they beckon.  And I noticed them in all their variety.

This billboard caught my eye, especially with the skyscrapers rising behind it, and I stopped to snap a photo.

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And I started thinking about architecture and its implications.  I hadn’t thought about architecture as a conversation–across time or otherwise.  I notice architecture and have written about it before in some different ways including this post, but hadn’t thought about how architects consider existing structures when they design new buildings.  Chicago is such an interesting collection of old and new, with more classical pieces from the past standing shoulder to shoulder with the new and shiny.

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I hadn’t thought about how space…whether the building fills the entire lot or allows space for people to walk in courtyards and open spaces below and between…can either make a city feel crowded and cramped,

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or open and airy.

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Or that reflections of other buildings can feel welcoming, like trying on what it feels like to walk in another’s shoes.

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Or that echoing aspects of a previous and nearby architecture honors and acknowledges that structure as the field also moves forward (and up)!

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Some buildings seem to take us back in time,

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and some take us back into history.

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And as I write this, I am beginning to see those conversations across time.  I am also seeing the ways that architects can ensure that newcomers are good neighbors and find ways to embrace the old while looking forward to the future.

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Can architectural decisions change the ways we interact with each other?  Do those tall buildings whisper in our ears, reminding us to be good neighbors, to learn from our past, to reach out and welcome change?  Inspiration can come in may forms…including the buildings around us.

In the words of Winston Churchill,

We shape our buildings; thereafter they shape us.

I know that architecture and interesting buildings inspire my photography…and now I am thinking about how it also inspires the ways we live, especially in big cities. Now I need to take some time and wander my own city center and explore its architecture more carefully!

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