Architecture is an interesting profession. You begin to notice things in your community that others overlook. You see inefficiencies that others simply accept as status-quo. The joy in our profession for me exists in the ability to design solutions, solve other people’s problems, and help them achieve their dreams. The downside is that everyone has an opinion about what you have done, what you should have done, and how they would do it better.
I sponsored the Harrisonburg Parklet Project with a strong desire to start a conversation about the importance of design in this community. In an agricultural community that was born out of people who are known for getting things done, no frills, and hard work, Architecture is often not a primary focus. This is not to say there are not beautiful design solutions in our community, but there are not many that marry both function and beauty. During the Harrisonburg Parklet Project there was a very obvious focus on beauty in some designs and function in other spaces. Those that wanted to design a beautiful space but did not invite people in became museum pieces that were hard to inhabit:
There were also those that focused on the function of the space and left the beauty to the work of the artists doing face painting.
There does not have to be a break between the two ideas. Beauty and function can coexist and should be in all projects for the betterment of the community. While the Parklets were all extremely successful and fun, I think these small installations are very much an indication of the larger community. We have accepted the idea that some buildings are just places that serve a function and have forgotten the importance of beauty, while others are focused on beauty and lack functional necessity to continue to be relevant. We as a community need and deserve more. We should all ask for a higher standard for our public and private buildings. Architecture cannot exist without function and beauty. DESIGN MATTERS.