Architecture’s aesthetics should support, rather than sabotage, a building’s function

Building failure is ubiquitous in the United States: A condominium tower collapses in the suburbs of Miami; another sinks and tilts precariously in San Francisco. In January of this year, devastating apartment fires in Philadelphia and New York killed residents who were unable to escape. And, with less fatal outcomes, countless high-profile buildings experience cracks, leaks, mold, and other problems. These are hardly isolated instances: In 2007, one expert estimated that something like a third of architectural insurance policies were subject to insurance claims based on their “errors and omissions” every year. Contemporary architectural culture often embraces bad building as a routine—even necessary—outcome of realizing conceptually advanced

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