Music is liquid architecture; Architecture is frozen music.
If architecture is frozen music, then music must be liquid architecture." And it is. When you are writing for woodwinds, brass and strings, in a 120 -piece symphony orchestra, it's architecture - emotional architecture.
Some years ago at the beginning of my architectural career I was presented with a stark contrast between two projects. The first was a major renovation of an historic building in New York city that had been bought by a major fashion designer. The second was a country home for clients in their 30’s who had always dreamed of having a log house.
The fashion designers building in Tribeca had originally been built to house the horse drawn ambulance team from an adjacent hospital, located just across an alleyway. On the third floor was a bridge from the ambulance building to what was the operating room. The newly created condo in the operating room was owned by the designer as well. The spaces were steeped in a human history that few of us can ever imagine, what would an operating room in the late 1800’s have witnessed?
The land owned by the young couple was in the foothills of the Berkshire mountains overlooking the Hudson valley, with a 20 mile view to the Catskills rising in the west. From its plateau the site looked across farms that had been in continuous operation since Colonial days. Being young and idealistic I had told them that I knew all about log construction and that it was really no different than standard house construction. While there was a lot to learn about the building type I had grown up with a log cabin in the family, had romantic memories of fishing trips there and the endless childhood fantasies of wilderness living. Like the writing of a song this design led me, I only channeled the realization of space. Variations of 8 inches or more from drawn measurements were common, and enhanced the natural beauty of the materials.
The program for the fashion designer was to create a clean, minimalist, white, and separate space to isolate him from the city outside. He needed to feel absolute control over the outside worlds influence in this space. Interior frosted glass walls were created 8” inside of the historic windows to allow historical accuracy to the exterior and win approval from the Landmarks Commission while denying any history inside of the building. Light was important and precisely controlled, but views were non-existent. Interior walls were to be kept to a minimum, and designed to be white planes floating above 40’ long 1/8” reveals, with a maximum allowed variation of 1/32”. The floor was natural bluestone that had to be specially quarried to insure that none of natures hand could be seen, not a blemish on the machine finished surface. Every detail had to be built to a machined accuracy. It was the type of space that architectural idealists dream of.
Both clients were happy with the finished spaces, but in the end the minimalist space shut out spirit and separated its occupants from outside connection. The country house reveled in nature, and allowed for moments of revelation no architect could predetermine. I continue to find new energies in the house on my frequent visits. I have not visited the loft since its completion.