Friday, November 9, 2012

Aging With Grace




Having just celebrated my birthday in October, I have been thinking and wondering about aging. For most of us, it is an uninvited process that we resist with every resource we have. From cosmetics, creams, Botox, fillers, and plastic surgery, our culture seeks to battle aging and grip tightly to youthfulness. As women, we want to stay young and beautiful, sexy and alluring. As men, we want to be handsome and distinguished, but never old.

For many, youthfulness is a must, and its pursuit borders addiction. Those youth seekers will fight age at every turn, capturing and maintaining that youthfulness to any extreme; even at the cost of unrecognizably changing their appearance.

However, some of us will choose to age gracefully. While we may strive to gently slow the aging process down with creams and supplements, we willingly see a wrinkle as a sign of having lived deeply, having laughed wholeheartedly, and having loved with no bounds. We recognize that our age honors us with profound wisdom, priceless experience, and a multitude of timeless memories.

Architecture too can age gracefully or can quickly become dated, losing the vivacity it once had.  A space or building that simply wears its style as a thin decorative layer can reflect a style or fad; however, it fails to reach us on a deeper level. Post modernism was one such architectural movement that was heavily criticized for its application of surface style.

Philip Johnson
Michael Graves

Similarly, some buildings wear a facade that fails to take root further into the building.  As we experience those buildings, much is missing.
Our human needs are not reflected in these buildings.
While we may see the building's style, we cannot feel its character. 

Charles Moore's Piazza d'Italia

Charles Moore's "Ironic Column"

It is only when the building has depth in meaning and reflects our human needs that its architectural soul emerges, awakening our awareness and experience of the provocative space. It is through that deeper level of understanding and interconnectedness, when the building’s soul speaks to ours, that the architecture assures its timelessness.

It is the inherent beauty and awe in a space that grants it cherished timelessness. Memorable architecture, that embraces the beauty within its soul, ages with poise and grace.  Its meaning and beauty do not fade, nor does it appear dated or passé.

Carlo Scarpa
John Lautner

I am a firm believer in appreciating and nurturing beauty--beauty from within as well as beauty from without. We are blessed with certain attributes, and they are ours to appreciate and enhance. Accepting the aging process that is inevitable, and not treating it as our adversary, we can find a tender and accepting way to enhance our beauty at any age.  So, embrace your ever-evolving beauty, and discover the richness that lies within you. Enable yourself to age with poise and grace. We may not be as baby smooth as we once were, but the wisdom, insight, and understanding that have deeply taken root, can be profoundly beautiful.
That is the key to aging gracefully…and the splendor of timeless beauty.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Wordless communication

While speech is a powerful tool, communicating without words can be even more provocative.  Babies do this, letting us know without words when they feel distraught, need something, or feel content and safe.
Lovers do this, exchanging a knowing look that they understand, communicating shared humor, disappointment, hurt, love, or desire.

Architecture also has the ability to communicate silently. A space can speak to us, instilling serenity and peacefulness. A home that we have designed with our personal touch can speak volumes on shelter, security, comfort, and familiarity. It can remind us that we belong to something, that we are not adrift. It can whisper safety and warmth to us without a single word.

A vibrant and trendy restaurant can talk of excitement and energy. It can communicate drama and cosmopolitan flair without a word.

A sanctuary communicates godliness and tranquility. Its voice is gentle, soft-spoken, and divine.

A workplace can communicate with order and organization. It seeks to motivate and inspire.

A  fireplace speaks of gathering and warmth. Its voice is inviting and draws us near.


The beauty of silent communication is the power that lies behind its demure nature. Unhindered by barriers of language, nuance, or tone, the silence speaks volumes in clarity and simplicity. When architecture finds its true voice, it translates into a building with soul. Imploring us to connect, architecture brings meaning to the mundane, awakens our senses, and offers us a quiet understanding.

And in that silence, even a whisper resonates.