October 1, 2015


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. IMG_4696The architect figured out how many stairs went from floor to floor, and where the optimal spot would be for the front and back doors. IMG_4660The 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. IMG_4765

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.IMG_4820 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 IMG_4706and a Frank Lloyd Wright-designed house. We have small Cape Cod style homes, and grand elegant mansions.IMG_4768

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. IMG_4692Most 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.IMG_4700

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.


  1. Wouldn't it be amazing to dream up a building... and then see it actually built?

  2. Great post! I LOVE buildings and wish I lived in Baltimore and could go on your walks.
    Anne Smith

  3. Meg, I have just returned from visiting the Florida Panhandle. In Walton county, home of Seaside Fl a planned community designed with a beach life style vibe which has had a ripple effect on design. If one searches on the Internet ,Alys beach Rosemary beach, Watercolor Water Sound these arts and crafts to Mediterrainean / Greek Isles exteriors you will find a sameness throughout the neighboorhood. I suppose it has a calming effect but to me I wonder what they look like inside the possibilities are endless!!. Also, I witnessed history well, sort of, yes , I did ! your fellow blogger Urban Grace saved a building, yes--- had it lifted from the foundation and moved down the hi-way to her new office location. It was hapenstance that I happened to be there to see in person what she had been documenting on her instagram/blog. I think we owe her an October is Architecture Month nomination for Walking the Walk and Talking the Talk!!!!

  4. Ever since I made "houses" with my Golden Books, I've always been fascinated by architecture. The good stuff is breathtaking, as is the bad stuff in it's own way, it's all that mediocrity in between that is so depressing. Bah banality! Thanks for letting us know it's Architecture Month. I'll keep a particular eye out for the gems.

  5. Meg you always find the most interesting architecture for us; adore buildings/homes with arches, they add so much interest!

    The Arts by Karena
    Parish-Hadley Tree of Life

  6. So funny and sadly only if you live in a city are most of the buildings around you by an architect. In the vast suburban wasteland that is this country (thats what it is, sorry, it has to be said) - those big boxes were NOT designed by architects. 95% of the houses people live in, one like the other, cookie-cutter, in the suburbs were NOT designed by architects. and it shows! There is a reason you're showing pictures of downtown Baltimore in this post and not, say.....Reston Virginia or Gaithersburg Maryland.
    And responding to the first comment -the most amazing experience in my career was the first project I ever worked on - pored over the drawings -drawing all the details. I was young enough that I wasn't involved in the CA process (construction administration) but when I visited and saw what I had drawn in so much detail FOR REAL IN PERSON -it was the best moment of my life. Since then it's still thrilling but nothing compares to that first time, you know? My weekly site meetings to job sites also make it a bit less stark 'before and after'. Anyway -it's a very personally rewarding profession to be in, even if we remain mostly anonymous :-) We can't all be Frank Gehry (thank god, what a joke that man is).

  7. What a charming, whimsical pun with so many facets! And what wonderful shapes and configurations and embellishments grace all those buildings, from smooth arches to angles to a confectionery of carvery and wreaths and swags worthy of a jewelbox room in Versailles, all out there over a plain old sidewalk for all to enjoy.

    The one which strikes me most is the open door, with its everyday arrows and announcements, all below that smooth arc of white and glass with the dainty number, and all those rising rows of curved brick flowing down like symmetrical rivulets into the perfect confluence below. The memory of the Palladian window upstairs in my Dad's bedroom at his house, with the afternoon sun making its way across the spread to his old work-worn hands, and us holding them as he took his last breath. I watched the light and shadow, and tried and tried to think of the shape-word, as "trapezoid" escaped me until later in the dark of my own bed,

    rachel, wishing for just one of those boxes of thirty years of Architectural Digest stacked high out in the garage.

  8. I was a children's librarian. Meg, please write a book about architecture for children.You write so wonderfully and it is sorely needed. I do so enjoy your blog.

  9. Yes, I love architecture. 23 years ago we remodeled my house, with an architect, and all those small details and choices reverberate through my life every day. Great post - and wonderful photos. We should not take it all for granted.


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