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What Will People Remember About Your Architecture?

By Maria Lorena Lehman — Get more articles like this sent to your email HERE.

Image Credit: © Manky Maxblack | Flickr

As you design your building, do you ever think about what will remain “standing” both physically and in the minds of those that experience it in the future?

Yes, buildings weather and must pass certain “tests of time”, but do you ever consider whether your building will be worth “saving”, or will even be in use as time passes? It has been said that “[i]t takes a lot of money to build a building, but it doesn’t cost that much more to get it right”.

Thus, you should think about how to gain the most “design leverage” to ensure that your architecture will not only “stand” in the future, but will also be of value to those that experience it.

What Makes a Building Stand the Test of Time?

Eventually as time passes, you will reach a point in your career where you will need to expand, preserve or even tear down a building as occupant’s needs change or even as zoning or codes change. Needless to say, it can be quite tricky if you are the architect who must resurrect or modernize the “old” to give way to the “new”.

So, what is your design philosophy when tackling this set of challenges? How do you integrate the collective memory of the people who have experienced the old? And then turn around to rise above the collective expectations of those that want their “site” to receive that proverbial “facelift”?

Of course, there is no one-size-fits-all answer to architecturally exploring, integrating, deconstructing, demolishing or preserving what once was into what will become. However, one ideal goal might be to reach true architectural innovation that brings a site’s potential forward so architecture can leap toward elevating the lifestyles of the people it serves.

It is your job as an architect to pay attention to what came before, with much attention to what is needed now — and how you will rise to the needs of occupants in the future, with your foresight today.

Designing a building that stands the test of time takes much ingenuity and insight. But in the end, it seems that great architecture usually resonates with its occupants not only in their everyday individual memories, but within their collective memories — which are shared and passed on — as they contribute to overarching cultures.

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Maria: I came across your website through a reference in today's Architect Weekly ezine and am delighted I did. I'll bookmark your site and check back often. I read the first article and then the second and thirty minutes later realized how much time had passed. I've been practicing for thirty years and have always missed the stimulation of academia. I find each of your brief dissertations sort of like a day in design studio. Thanks for the inspiration.

Ron Ward
AI Group Design
I am excited to see you touch a vein of values in architecture, I have been chasing myself for years. Your depth of involvement in these very deep subjects is really beautiful and passionately dealt with and well written. Sound, color and value, shape, texture, scale, smell.... all definitive measures of the spaces we should be alert to. [...] I will savor the rest of your investigation of sensuality in architecture. I'm Glad I found you.

Dennis McLaughlin
McLaughlin Architect
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Maria Lorena Lehman is a multi award-winning visionary author, designer, and educator from the United States. Maria holds a Bachelor of Architecture with Honors from Virginia Tech and a Master in Design with Distinction from Harvard University Graduate School of Design. CLICK HERE to learn more.

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