On Civic Architecture


“And so we come to civic architecture, the grand omission for half a century. In its most simple terms civic architecture means assigning a proper role to each building so it works in concert with its neighbors, thereby creating a comprehensible whole. This is the opposite of the Madison Avenue view, which thinks of each building as a billboard for its owner. It means that there must be the focal building, the foreground and supporting buildings, the building that acts as a base for the important building, the building that acts as a pivot, the gateway building, the transitional building, etc. Architects have abdicated from the traditional role they played in large-scale, three-dimensional design. We mistakenly thought that the planners were civic designers. They are not now, and never will be.”

Panel discussion with William H. Jordy, Philip Johnson, Peter Blake and Ulrich Franzen, 1962