October is architecture month.
Will you do me a favour? Take a look around you… are you sitting in a building? Do you ever think about the building? About why it looks the way that it does? In all likelihood, an architect had something to do with the building.
The architect placed the windows in a spot that would be pleasing from both the inside and out. The architect figured out how many stairs went from floor to floor, and where the optimal spot would be for the front and back doors. The architect thought about the decorative aspects of the space, what type of moldings on the ceilings and what kind of ornamentation would look best on the façade.
The built environment, both in Baltimore and around the world, owes so much to the architecture of the place. Each has its own look, its own feel. We all know that there’s good architecture and bad architecture, but from there on, it’s subjective. In Baltimore, we are so lucky to have a wide range of architectural styles, starting with the classical buildings surrounding Mount Vernon Place to the shining new glass structures in Harbor East. We have rows and rows of rowhouses and a Frank Lloyd Wright-designed house. We have small Cape Cod style homes, and grand elegant mansions.
All of these have one thing in common – they came from the mind of an architect, a designer, a builder, a creator. They came from the mind of a person who thought through the process of putting a building and all of its elements together to make a unified whole. Most of these architects were anonymous, working in a small office, drafting the lines and angles by hand, never to be known by the generations who saw their work.
So, during the month of October, do me a favour and look around, think of the people who designed the buildings around you, and if you know one, thank an architect.
This is excerpted from an essay I wrote for the Baltimore Architecture Foundation in 2011 and illustrated with images I am using on my walk-and-talk tour of 200 Years of Charles Street later this month. All were taken in a two block stretch of Charles Street, Baltimore’s Main Street.