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2006 05 02
Pop! Architecture Goes Mainstream
A series on the appeal and popularity of all things architectural

Architecture is currently enjoying an immense popularity well beyond the confines of the profession. With the Bilbao Effect securely ensconced in every marketing expert’s lexicon, and cities clamouring for Starchitect attention, everyone, it seems, wants to be invited to the party.

Without wishing to claim primary ownership of good ideas, or snobbishly tap our watches as the undesigned legions discover the wonders of symmetry and solid materials, the following opens a series on the ubiquity of architecture in popular culture, from starchitects and fashion to the language of the media. A greater demand for beauty, well-made objects, and intriguing spatial experiences, after all, can only be a good thing.

Pop!1 The Architect of Everything

‘Architect’ is derived from the Latin architectus and from the Greek arkhitekton, meaning chief or master builder. The word itself is experiencing a resurgence in everyday parlance, or at least in the media, but not for things specifically architectural:

George W. Bush called Karl Rove 'the architect' of his re-election victory. Heinrich Himmler is the architect of genocide, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed of al Qaeda, the alleged mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks, is the architect of terror. Paul Wolfowitz is chief architect of the US war in Iraq; George F. Kennan, that of the cold war. From the architect of India's nuclear program (Homi Jehangir Bhabha) to self-help books on becoming the architect of your own destiny (Sacred Geometry Oracle: Become the Architect of Your Life, by John Greer), the designing schemes of architects seem to be everywhere.

The term’s association with warfare seems more and more common: The online edition of the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language defines ‘architect’ as follows:

1. One who designs and supervises the construction of buildings or other large structures.
2. One that plans or devises: a country considered to be the chief architect of war in the Middle East.

Considering the unsavoury nature of the affairs moulded into submission by the aforementioned master builders, not to mention the aspirations of world domination, can this do anything to deflate the notorious architect’s ego?
[email this story] Posted by Alexandra McIntosh on 05/02 at 04:48 AM

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