Traditional Building Portfolio
Opinions: Forums

Forums About Commercial and Institutional Design

  • Humane Architecture
    On the 13th anniversary of the Palladio Awards program, Clem Labine takes a look at the first architectural honors to focus exclusively on traditional design.
    By Clem Labine

    The Buildings We Love
    "Ornament is deep stuff, greatly misunderstood in recent years."

    The Halo Effect
    By A. Robert Jaeger, president and co-founder of Partners for Sacred Places

    A Modest Proposal on Our 25th Anniversary
    By Clem Labine, founder, Traditional Building magazine

    The Origins of Modern Conservation Theory in Fascist Italy
    By Steven W. Semes, Associate Professor, School Architecture, University of Notre Dame

    Replacing the Secretary's Standards
    By Gary Cole, AIA, Esq.

    Challenging Architecture's Caste System
    By Clem Labine

    Tax Credits Save History
    By Robert J. Verrier, FAIA, and Michael D. Binette, AIA, The Architectural Team, Inc.

    The Taliban of Architecture
    By Clem Labine

    Making Room
    By Dr. Mark Gelernter, Dean and Professor of Architecture, College of Architecture and Planning, University of Colorado Denver

    Culture of Reuse
    By Barbara Campagna

    The "Modern" Genius of Traditional Urbanism
    By Michael Mehaffy

    Letter to the Editor
    By Aaron C. Ruby

    The Twenty Acre Myth
    One of the most insidious strictures of the conventional wisdom mandates that any new church needs 20 acres.
    By Duncan G. Stroik

    Preserving Historic Context
    There's been a decades-long debate about problems created by non-contextual design of additions and new construction in historic areas.
    By Clem Labine

    Saving Windows
    There is an immediate need for standards that include well researched energy data as well as a catalog of proven methods used to repair and restore historic windows.
    By John Leeke

    Peril to the Skyline in Paris
    Paris is the world's city, but the world does not know what is going on there. The Mayor and City Council of Paris have launched plans to build six tower projects that will intrude into the low skyline of that most serenely beautiful of cities. Soon the builders will send in their pile drivers, and the need for action is urgent.
    By Mary Campbell Gallagher, J.D., Ph.D.

    After the Roundtable: Moving Forward in Preservation
    By Steven W. Semes

    The Long Way Home
    Haiti continues to devolve into isolated fragments of social networks, governance and community. The effects of the earthquake in January, 2010, and the seasonal battering of tropical storms have exposed the vulnerable condition of millions of people living in marginal conditions – physically, economically and politically.
    By Rob Robinson

    Learning from Ralph Adams Cram
    By Ethan Anthony, AIA
    We humans are extremists. We tend to see best by contrast, in polarities and without shades of grey. Ralph Adams Cram yearned for a philosophical and learned approach to architecture.

    The Power of Adaptive Reuse
    By Michael W. Mehaffy
    Just now the economy is on everyone's minds. The worst recession since the Great Depression has left many of us in the building and design fields scrambling to figure out viable new business models in this changed landscape – and looking for lessons amid the wreckage.

    Preserving Energy
    By John H. Cluver
    Old buildings have an unjust reputation for being energy hogs. And unfortunately, this misconception can be misused to justify "improvements" that do little to save energy or money, while doing real damage to an historic building.

    Spirit in Architecture
    By Alvin Holm, A.I.A.
    "Old buildings exude spirit; few new buildings do." This simple statement is not likely to raise any serious objections because it seems so entirely subjective. Who would quarrel with someone's apparently sentimental view? And especially, who would quarrel about as elusive a quality as "spirit?" Yet there are dozens of ways this opening declaration can be supported. This essay will outline a few of them.

    The Wake-Up Call of Climate Change
    By Michael Mehaffy
    Some people think it's dangerous to hitch the cause of traditional architecture too closely to any one issue like climate change. I tend to agree – up to a point. For one thing, even if by magic we were able to end the threat of climate change tomorrow, we would still have to confront many other urgent environmental issues: pollution, resource depletion, habitat destruction, invasive species, and more.

    The Real Changes to Come
    By Michael Lykoudis, dean, University of Notre Dame School of Architecture
    The discussion about climate change remains focused on how to maintain our current car-and-suburb based way of life through the search for new sources of energy and developing current technologies to their maximum efficiency. Even streamlining and maximizing technologies cannot maintain the pace of growth at the scale of our energy needs. Our consumption at every level has to be reduced dramatically to make considerable strides towards a truly sustainable way of life.

    Lady Gaga’s Lessons for 'Starchitects'
    By Clem Labine
    It’s obvious that publicity and creating “buzz” are the routes to fame and fortune in big-time architecture. When commissioning high-profile buildings, institutional clients these days usually opt for a brand-name “Starchitect” with a reputation for creating iconic buildings. (“Iconic,” of course, means a one-off bizarre-looking structure.) In due time, the designated Starchitect will bring forth the expected tortured configuration, guaranteeing that photos of this “bold icon of modern architecture” will appear in all the magazines and travel brochures. Mission accomplished; game over.

    What's Destroying Tradition?
    By Stephen A. Mouzon
    A nefarious idea is set to destroy tradition in architecture, just as it was struggling back to life after a decades-long near-death experience. And no, it's not the Modernists again. This time, it comes from within our ranks. In order to properly understand how treacherous this idea is, we need to paint a backdrop of the ideal for proper contrast. Visit any great town around the world, and you'll immediately see that they are dramatically different according to their regional conditions, climate and culture. But you'll also notice that there's a common thread you can't quite put your finger on. Christopher Alexander calls this the "quality without a name."

    Silver Lining
    By Peter H. Miller, President, Restore Media, LLC
    This headline in The New York Times caught my eye recently: “Shift to Savings May Be Downturn’s Lasting Impact.” I have been thinking and writing about why this recession is good for traditional building, so naturally I thought this article was about a “shift” toward a greater inclination for “saving” historic buildings, now and also after the economy gets better.

    United We Stand
    By Ralph DiNola, Associate AIA, LEED AP, Green Building Services, Portland, OR
    Dramatic change is taking place across the country. The leadership in Washington, the economic downturn, stimulus and a new urgency regarding climate change has produced a seismic shift in the way we view our world. Despite the challenges, examples of these cycles of struggle and hope can be found throughout history and have always resulted in positive change, hope and resilience. I believe a groundswell of optimism and unity is taking hold throughout the world.

    Dear President Obama
    By Judy Hayward, Education Director, Restore Media, LLC
    I bet you had no idea how much hope you inspired when you mentioned the loss of historic sites as a serious problem in your address to U.S. Governors in December 2008. The preservation community was grateful to learn that historic preservation was already on your radar screen. The news of your statement spread like wildfire over the internet. Thank you for standing up for one critically important part of the work we do. With that recognition in mind, this essay started as a “Dear Mr. President” letter, where I thought I might be so bold as to suggest a preservation agenda for YOU. Instead, it has evolved into some humble reflections on what WE can do TOGETHER toward building a stronger nation.

    God Is in the Details
    By Ethan Anthony, AIA
    In the medieval church at Amiens, the capitals of the columns show people in scenes from the Bible and in scenes from everyday life. In 12th century stained glass, we see ourselves in the simple scenes of everyday people gathered together with royalty in adoration of the Magi. Scenes of everyday life incorporate the viewer, and God, in the details.

    Finding Common Ground
    By Mark Thaler, AIA
    Sustainable design advocates and preservationists alike are engaged in the problem of how to adapt our building practices to better protect our environment. We are united in our goal to create or maintain an environment that will provide for the physical and spiritual needs of future generations; to maintain our architectural patrimony while not being a burden on this planet we share.

    Teaching Preservation Values
    By Joseph K. Oppermann, FAIA
    The American construction market in recent years has seen a gradual but pronounced increase in the amount of construction dollars spent on existing buildings as opposed to new construction. Accordingly, architectural firms are now reporting that about 40 percent of their fees come from this expanding market.

    Poetics and Science
    By Michael Lykoudis As the looming crises of global climate change and fossil fuel depletion become more of a reality, we are underequipped with respect to the information and data needed to make constructive decisions about how we will live and build in both the near and the long terms. To help direct us in our decision making, I suggest that a new kind of research be pursued and that an institute, or a consortium of schools, universities and other institutions, be established to assist in carrying out this work. Before describing how this institute might work, it is useful to understand what we are up against.

    Holistic Landscapes?
    By Charles A. Birnbaum, FASLA, FAAR
    Museum consultant Randi Korn, whose work is dedicated to using visitor studies to guide museums in improving their practices and achieving their missions, recently noted that many museums today "work within a cycle of intentionality that has created an inclusive, process-oriented infrastructure so it can write a purposeful mission and measurable intentions, and can demonstrate the value of the museum in people's lives and in its community through repeated assessment, while offering continuous learning opportunities for all staff." Is the same goal for "holistic intentionality," to use Korn's term, achievable in our nation's historic parks?

    Palladio's Legacy
    By Victor Deupi
    A recent gathering of a group of Institute of Classical Architecture & Classical America (ICA&CA) staff, faculty and friends at Palladio's breathtaking Villa Cornaro in Piombino Dese, Italy, brought to mind the question of the Renaissance architect's relevance to contemporary practice.

    The Roots of Modernist Church Architecture
    By Duncan Stroik
    To many observers, it would seem that the reductionist buildings commissioned for Roman Catholic worship today are the direct corollary of Church teaching, modern liturgical studies and contemporary theology. Indeed, in the 1960s there was a great surge of construction of austere churches that often resembled commercial or factory buildings, bearing out the belief that they were mandated by the spirit of the Second Vatican Council. But these concrete boxes, barn-like shelters and sculptural masses all had precedent in the pre-Conciliar era. In fact, radical new church configurations had been experimented with since the dawn of Modernism in the late-19th century.

    Something Tangible
    By Henry J. Duffy and Lawrence J. Nowlan
    The subject of public monuments has gained attention in recent years, as great tragedies and events resonate in the public consciousness: We may think of the Vietnam Memorial, the Oklahoma City Memorial or the new World War II Memorial in Washington, DC.

    Classicism as a "Liberal" Art
    By David Mayernik
    Humanitas, as Cicero understood it, was closely associated with the old Roman virtue of clementia and thus stood in a certain opposition to Roman gravitas.... [I]t was the study of art and literature rather than of philosophy which was supposed to result in "humanity." — Hannah Arendt, "The Crisis in Culture," Between Past and Future

    When Preservation Involves Demolition
    By Vince Michael
    Preservation is a fundamentally conservative notion that resonates with our primal fear of change. At the same time, preservation is change. Restoration and rehabilitation change the current status of a building from one of romantic Ruskinian decay into something new, even if it looks just as it did. The act of preservation suggests the ability to make time stand still and step outside history, arguably the greatest change of all.

    A Message to the New Congress
    By Allan Greenberg
    Americans went to the polls in November last year to elect a new Congress, but they will be sending their lawmakers to a place where the front door will soon be permanently locked to keep ordinary citizens out. The experience of visiting what Thomas Jefferson called the "Hall of the People" has been significantly diminished and is about to get worse.

    Being Right Is Not Enough
    By Clem Labine
    The brownstone revival and the New Urbanist movement taught us how to create livable urban neighborhoods, but an avalanche of developer dollars can sweep aside all "right" answers – unless we are willing to join the political fray.

    Designing for Health
    By Richard J. Jackson, MD, MPH
    At the beginning of the 20th century, business leaders, physicians, planners and architects saw daily the effects of bad urban environments. Most evident were communicable diseases that were known to be coming from bad housing, crowding, little sunlight, unfit drinking water, mosquitoes and unremoved waste. Virtually every family had lost a loved one to an infectious disease of environmental origin. Controlling these diseases required cleaning up and better designing urban areas. These leaders proposed and put in place the funding for large urban improvements and public sanitation efforts. It was evident that one could not be well if a neighbor had typhoid and a business partner had TB. These infrastructure improvements could not have occurred if each of the professions remained isolated within its specialty. Doctors had to care about sewers, architects about sunlight, and politicians about public health accountability.

    The Salvage Dilemma
    By Elizabeth Corbin Murphy, FAIA
    We all know that preservation of the built environment is the ultimate in recycling. But while those in the conservation and preservation fields have had trouble convincing the "greenies" that preventing historic building materials from reaching the landfill en total may be more significant than saving one or two BTUs, a surprising phenomenon has occurred: pieces of historic structures, valued by the average citizen, have become readily attainable.

    A "Masterpiece" 40 Years Out
    By Milton Wilfred Grenfell, AIA
    There remain a handful of early Modernist buildings that maintain their masterpiece aura despite the decline of their kindred ilk in public esteem, and due to the rough justice of the wrecking ball, a decline in number as well. The Seagram building, Fallingwater and Washington Dulles International Airport might be grouped in this diminishing herd of sacred cows. Alas, after several recent months of flying in and out of Dulles Airport, I'm convinced it's time to lead this old heifer off to the abattoir.

    Preserving Modern Architecture in the Postmodern World
    By David N. Fixler, AIA, Principal, Einhorn Yaffee Prescott, Architecture & Engineering, and President, DOCOMOMO-US/New England
    The modern movement in architecture produced a body of work of a scale and impact unprecedented in the history of humankind. Modern architecture was the physical manifestation of a broad social and philosophical movement that forever changed the course of human history. At its best, the modern movement captured a spirit of progress, openness and an uplifting of the human condition, offering to convert lofty civic ideals into physical reality. These ideas not only reflected the sweeping social and cultural aspirations of the day, but were also a manifestation of a response to the Enlightenment promise of progress that continues to resonate around the world.

    On Civitas
    By His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales
    On November, 3 2005, His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales accepted the National Building Museum's Vincent Scully Prize, in Washington DC. The prize was established in 1999 to recognize exemplary practice, scholarship or criticism in architecture, historic preservation and urban design. The following is the complete text of the acceptance speech.

    Moving Forward, Looking Back
    By Rudy R. Christian, president, Christian & Son, Inc.
    I was talking to a friend recently about some ideas for trades education initiatives and he mentioned how much had changed since he and I started getting involved in educational projects together five years ago. It started me thinking how much really has changed, not just in five years, but since the Whitehill Report. The Whitehill Report, a product of the Committee on Professional and Public Education for Historic Preservation and Restoration formed by the National Trust for Historic Preservation (NTHP), was published April 15, 1968. The committee was formed in January 1967, less than three months after the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) became law.

    Of Time and Architecture
    By Milton Grenfell
    In an age of short-term plans, designing and building for a civilized future has never been more important.

    Forums About Residential Design

    A Glimpse of the Classical Ideal
    By Clem Labine
    Unity, beauty and skill abounded at the “Classical Traditions Conference” in Salt Lake, UT.

    Where have all the colors gone?
    "I cry out to you, Pete Seeger. Where have all those flowers of America's historic colors gone?"

    Save Homes: Unite a Neighborhood
    Preserving historic housing stock is a community-wide concern.
    By Spiro Gouras

    Breaking the Rules
    The time has come to relearn architecture's common language.
    By Alvin Holm

    Owning a Piece of History
    Being a historic homeowner comes with certain rights and responsibilities.
    By Mark Briggs and Tim Boyle

    Time to Protect Historic Interiors, Too
    By Jess Phelps
    Preservation easements can help.

    Getting It Right
    By Marianne Cusato
    Questions of where to live, and what type of house to live in, inspire a new book.

    Possibilities in Paint
    by William Barry
    The decorative arts make a house a home, and foster creative and architectural expression.

    The Will to Build Locally
    by Christine G. H. Franck
    New Orleans, local architectural wisdom and the importance of place.

    Build Local
    by Michael G. Imber
    Our built environment should reflect our cultural heritage.

    Classic Beauty
    by Thomas P. Matthews, Jr.
    What makes Classical architecture so enduring?

    Building Smaller and Smarter
    by Stephen A. Mouzon
    Fourteen key principles that promote living more compactly.

    Building a Culture of Purpose
    by Braulio Casas
    To improve the built environment, architects must rediscover their sense of purpose.

    The Noble Wall Base
    by Gregory F. Shue
    Though often under-appreciated, the wall base is the foundation of a well-designed room.

    Why Palladio Matters More Than Ever
    by Clem Labine
    The legacy of Andrea Palladio endures in the designs of today that he continues to inspire, as well as in the architecture awards program that bears his name.

    Building a Knowledge Base
    by Braulio Casas
    Deconstruction, relocation and reconstruction have an important role to play in saving America's heritage buildings.

    Stewardship, Reconstruction and Preservation in America
    by Jona Harvey
    Interdisciplinary sharing of knowledge and experience results in better building practices.

    Adaptive Design
    by Eric R. Osth, AIA
    In order to design relevant dwellings, cities, towns and neighborhoods, designers must be aware of economic and technological trends.

    Diversity in Education
    by Christine G. H. Franck
    The future of design is best served by drawing from both the Modernist and Classical traditions of architectural education.

    Preserving Tradition
    by John H. Cluver
    Our historic buildings offer lessons that can be applied to contemporary designs.

    Filling in the Gaps: Creating an Historic District Infill Tax Credit
    by Bryan Clark Green
    A new type of tax credit could encourage compatible infill in historic districts.

    The Case for Structural Engineered Wood
    by Jack Merry
    The Engineered Wood Association makes the argument for structural engineered-wood products.

    Scorecards and Historic Buildings
    by Donovan Rypkema
    In its current incarnation, the LEED rating system rewards "green" buildings to the detriment of sustainable development; it could learn much from similar European initiatives.

    Common Sense Green Building
    by Michael C. Connor
    Engineered-wood products made from waste-stream material save trees and are thus touted as environmentally friendly. But is this really a green practice?

    Artisan Educating Architect
    by Frederick Wilbur
    Effective communication between architects and the many workmen, artists and artisans involved in implementing their designs is imperative to the success of any building project.

    Language and Architecture
    by John B. Tittmann, AIA
    Like language, contemporary architecture is inextricably linked to its history.

    Hand in Hand
    by Bryan Clark Green, Ph.D.
    Architecture and preservation are not antithetical; each practice has the ability to inform, guide and enrich the other.

    Traditional Building Today
    by John Toates, AIA
    The execution of traditional design relies heavily on the availability of skilled craftspeople.

    In Theory
    by Sheldon Richard Kostelecky
    The atelier system of the École des Beaux Arts offers an effective method of uniting theory and practice in contemporary architectural education.

    Energy-Saving Answers
    by John H. Cluver
    Replacing siding, windows and doors in the name of energy savings can compromise the traditional character of an historic house.

    Tradition and Sustainability in the 21st Century
    by Hank Dittmar
    The challenge of creating sustainable communities in the future can be met only by understanding the past.

    Design Takes a Back Seat
    by Brent Hull
    When was the last time you tried to buy good moldings or well-designed building materials at a lumber yard? Why is it so hard to get products with thick and rich details that convey a sense of permanence and strength? A major problem in the building-materials market today is the lack of design expertise of manufacturers. Few manufacturers seek to be the experts and sources of information that manufacturers were in the first half of last century.

    Manufactured Architecture
    by Stephen A. Mouzon
    Can the assembly line meet the high design standards of contemporary traditional architecture?

    Living Compactly
    by Maricé Chael, AIA
    Contradicting the trend toward increasingly larger homes, a Florida architect argues that it is not only possible to live more compactly – it's also more cost efficient and environmentally friendly.

    A Natural Pairing
    by Marilyn Casto
    The energy savings associated with repairing, rather than replacing, old structures show that historic preservation is, by its very nature, a sustainable practice.

    Katrina's Wake
    by Hadiya Strasberg
    While the government’s response to Hurricane Katrina has been contentious, the results of the Mississippi Renewal Forum may change the way the nation rebuilds after such disasters.

    The Prince and the Pauper Revisited
    by Richard Cameron
    A Classical architect tackles the perception that his profession is geared exclusively to the wealthy.

    Don't Think of Seaside!
    by Sandy Sorlien
    The New Urbanism has been under fire lately, especially since its post-Hurricane Katrina work – some critiques have been instructive, while others are merely misconceptions.

    Western Classicism
    by Thomas P. Matthews, Jr.
    Contrary to popular opinion, the city of Denver has a rich history of Classical architecture; recently, the Rocky Mountain chapter of the ICA&CA was established.

    The Impact of Katrina
    by Stephen A. Mouzon
    The greatest natural disaster in American history may have profoundly positive effects on the future of architecture on the Gulf Coast. The Mississippi Renewal Forum is over, but its recommendations and initiatives are set to change our thinking on planning and architectural design.

    Mississippi Rising
    by Christine Franck
    For seven days in October, the Mississippi Renewal Forum struggled with the social, aesthetic and future aspects of rebuilding the Mississippi coast after Hurricane Katrina.

    Preservation Needs a Vocabulary Reset
    by Clem Labine
    To attract great public support, the preservation movement must adjust its lexicon.

    Green Architecture: A Return to Nature's Principles
    by Eric Stengel
    The ratios and proportions found in nature are reflected in the principles of Classical design and green architecture.

    A Fight for Craftsmanship
    By Brent Hull
    The craftsman-versus-the-machine debate comes down to the fine details.

    Phenomenal Place, Place of Phenomena
    By Jessica Matteson
    Memorable landscape design invites the onlooker to participate and interact, rather than merely observe.



    Use this tool to search for specific individuals, architectural firms, and
    feature topics.
    Advertising Information | Privacy Policy

    Traditional Building Period Homes Traditional Building Portfolio traditional product galleries traditional product reports
    rexbilt Tradweb Traditional Building Conference Palladio Awards

    Copyright 2014. Active Interest Media. All Rights Reserved.