The Two Most Dangerous Words In Architecture: Style and Beauty

© Duo Dickinson

© Duo Dickinson

This article was originally published on Common Edge.

“I hate this whole ‘beauty’ thing,” says a deeply talented architect and professor friend, reacting to an emerging ripple in the zeitgeist. He is not alone. Words are dangerous things. Since World War II, there has been a consensus mainstream in architecture: the Modernist canon. But change is coming in the profession—and in our culture.

The true believers cringe at the word “beauty” as a design criterion. They dismiss the word “style,” too. Like all orthodoxies, there is simply “right” and “wrong.” The realities of the “wrong” are writ large in architectural orthodoxy: “wrong” is anything allusive to anything but that canon itself. Closed-loop rationalization gives comfort to the convicted.

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