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Marc Kushner, “Why the buildings of the future will be shaped by you?”

Marc Kushner’s “Why the buildings of the future will be shaped by you?” dives into the changing relationship between architects and the public. He starts off by stating that, “Architecture is not about math or zoning — it’s about visceral emotions.” Kushner takes us down a historical path of the past thirty years of architecture to show how the public has become an integral part of the design process.

Marc Kushner begins his Ted talk in the 1960s at the height of Brutalism, an architectural style characterized by massive, monolithic and block-like appearances and large-scale use of poured concrete. Kushner goes on to talk about how Architects use triggers to get an emotional connection to buildings. In the case of Brutalism, many times it was governments that wanted to create architecture that seemed like it could stand the test of time. An immovable and immutable force within society.

Brutalism
Photo by Pat Krupa

It is important to view styles within architecture as, “…a pendulum going back and forth between innovation and symbols that evoke that visceral feeling.”

After Brutalism came innovative design in the 1980s and 90s, he states that, “…post-modernism and suburban living allowed for memories of places to be reinvented…” It is out of this ability to reinvent that we got Italian villas in the middle of China, and large columns similar to the Parthenon in the middle of Athens, Ohio. 

The advent of the computer and design software allowed for Deconstructivism to blossom, and grow into Frank Gehry’s 1997 Guggenheim Bilbao. Kushner states that Gehry’s work in Bilbao “…created a rare moment when critics, academics, and the public were united around a building.” As tourism numbers in Bilbao skyrocketed, Media was obsessed with these abnormal forms that attracted hoards of people. 1997 was a turning point, and the increasing use of the internet was part of this change in the relationship between architects and the public.

Bilbao
Photo by Vitor Pinto

Internet allows the public to rapidly share architecture, which in turn means everyone becomes a critic and the architecture can be disembodied from its original location.

This rapid form of communication also allows for a feedback loop to be created, in which the public now has a direct form of communicating with the architect. As the pendulum between innovation and symbols moves faster and faster the line begins to blur. Kushner states that, “Media allows for innovation to become charged symbols by the community, thus changing our relationship with buildings.” Thus, architecture cannot be forced upon society like brutalism was.

Make your mark on architecture and if you are interested in learning more about Marc Kushner you can head over to Architizer, a company founded by Kushner to empower architects with information to build better buildings, better cities and a better world.

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