John Silber Stays Vigilant as Architecture’s Watchdog


Proof that John Silber isn’t just publishing a controversial book (“Architecture of the Absurd”), but backing it up by living the life too. Appearing in the Letters to the Editor section of The Boston Globe this week was a letter Silber sent in to respond to an article Robert Campbell wrote about the Institute of Contemporary Art winning the Boston Society of Architects‘ medal. In the story, Campbell said that “architects think of their profession as on of the fine arts,” which Silber took issue with, as well as going on to complaining about the ICA building itself. Here’s a bit:

Objects of fine art, however, are fundamentally different from buildings. No one lives in music or in a painting or sculpture. One apprehends the fine arts from without, and is free to avoid or ignore them. This is not possible for those who occupy buildings. However beautiful, buildings must serve different needs, including providing shelter from the elements.

Architects are properly restrained not only by the wishes, needs, and financial and time limitations of their clients. They are also restrained by the laws of nature. Unlike fine artists who may create as they alone please, science intrudes on the practice of architects.