Skip to content

What makes an architect or building good? Even great?

What is great architecture? What makes a building “good?”

As a woman, my buildings are immediately a political statement, a statement on my gender. I am often described as a “female architect” rather than just “architect.” But rather than let the politics of the system control my work: politics and aesthetics inspire and innovate me.

I don’t think great architecture comes from architects who dedicate themselves to one kind of project. After awhile, those two dozen office headquarters you’ve designed start to look alike. But good architecture isn’t just about vision either, it’s about a personal mission and a philosophy. Deciding what architecture meant to me and what creating a building meant—what it represented—was a seminal decision in my career and in my style.

In all of my projects, I try to imbue what I describe as humane modernism: buildings that are well built, that foster connections, and inspire their inhabitants, are an ethical responsibility. And this is a challenge.

Often times, the projects I take on have a moral and environmental dilemma to face; tight sites, tight budgets, modern but environmentally conscious design that can echo the voice of the clients. How can a Planned Parenthood clinic be both warm, opening but secure? How can a residence on a cliff (with a 200 foot drop) look romantic, modern but still fit on its rural site? And all while working with clients with their very own opinions.

I have designed health centers and multi-family residences. I have designed headquarters and homes, some from scratch and others were given to me with bones. In each project, I consider and apply my philosophy.

But your vision or mission doesn’t need to be morally or politically oriented like mine. Gehry’s façades play with perspective and his interiors with space. He challenges what a building can be. Hadid looked towards angularity that is still fluid. She compromised nothing

Discovering what philosophy motivates your creation—that is good architecture.



4 Comments Post a comment
  1. Eugene Kupper #

    What is great architecture? What makes a building “good?” – These are two VERY different questions. Then – questions about “good architects”, or “good female architects” – still more issues to ponder. You show the Sydney Opera House, perhaps as an example of great architecture. OK – but some would ask for a still higher standard. Good practice, including good politics, seem to be ethical questions, and not about architecture, – but professionalism. If we have no stability in terminology, we probably have no semantic stability. I like your work, but if I try to answer your questions using your work as a standard, I have problems with your semantics, and my attention is no longer on your work.

    April 20, 2016
  2. Well said! I really admire and appreciate someone’s beautiful creation especially in terms of architecture. You can really notice if someone is creative and passionate due to its creation.

    October 15, 2019
  3. Your clients will depend on you to paint the vision of the finished product.

    December 30, 2020
  4. Great blog yoou have here

    October 23, 2022

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: