The Right Angle Journal - Winter 2019 - 5

AUTHENTICITY
by GORDON S. GRICE, OAA, FRAIC

or most of its history, architecture had no need to concern itself with authenticity. "Architecture," in the early days, consisted of buildings intended to convey a
sense of importance. If that meant borrowing from earlier styles, so be it. There
was still plenty of unimportant building going on - homes, sheds, barns, factories,
shops, studios and other lowly, unofficial structures.
Understandably, when the word "authenticity" entered our language, in the 1700s,
it had little to do with architecture. In fact, for the next century-and-a-half, architectural movements, one after the other, were described with qualifiers, such as
"neo-" (Classical), "revival" (Romanesque, Gothic) and "style" (Regency, Queen
Anne, Edwardian). Victorian-era architecture and design, still wildly popular today,
can be best described as "eclectic" - not so much a style as a riot of styles. If the
Victorians concerned themselves with authenticity at all, it was in their fascination
with curios - quaint, authentic objects collected from exotic locales, displayed without
context for the sake of novelty.
From this eclectic omnium-gatherum mélange, emerged the ab initio movements
of the late 19th century: attempts to reconnect architectural form with its function or
its means of creation; to dispense with derived architectural styles in the interests of
developing an architecture that was true to its roots, that reflected its purpose, or the
means of its creation, and not distinguished by stylistic embellishments.
"Simplicity of life, even the barest, is not a misery, but the very foundation of
refinement," said British designer William Morris in 1880. And, as Chicago architect
Louis Sullivan decreed, in 1896, "Form follows function." Wouldn't it be better if a
building reflected its purpose, instead of being dressed up to look like something
else? To which Viennese architect Adolf Loos added in 1910, "The evolution of culture marches with the elimination of ornament from useful objects." The search for
authenticity in architecture had begun.
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There's nothing bogus
about Mickey Mouse.
This star on Hollywood
Boulevard, one of over
2600 in the Hollywood
Walk of Fame,
celebrates his life and
achievements.
THE RIGHT ANGLE JOURNAL

GORDON S. GRICE is editor of The Right Angle Journal.

AUTHENTICITY & CREATIVE INVENTION
by BILL BIRDSELL, OAA, FRAIC

he dictionary definition of "authentic" starts with words like "of undisputed
origin" and "genuine," but it soon gets involved with techniques and schools of
thought. I do not find any of this very helpful, especially when it comes to authenticity in architecture.
To me, architecture is a language of light and form that speaks for itself. The act
of translating architectural experience into words is where the trouble begins. Consider the
constant flux between words and meanings. Of course, writers are all too ready to take on
the task of interpreting everything into words. In most architectural magazines, images take
precedence over words, but that only transfers the job of interpretation to photographers,
who have their own tricky conventions.
The Right Angle  |  Winter 2019  |  5


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The Right Angle Journal - Winter 2019

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of The Right Angle Journal - Winter 2019

Authenticity
Index to Advertisers
Locations
The Right Angle Journal - Winter 2019 - Intro
The Right Angle Journal - Winter 2019 - cover1
The Right Angle Journal - Winter 2019 - cover2
The Right Angle Journal - Winter 2019 - 3
The Right Angle Journal - Winter 2019 - 4
The Right Angle Journal - Winter 2019 - Authenticity
The Right Angle Journal - Winter 2019 - 6
The Right Angle Journal - Winter 2019 - 7
The Right Angle Journal - Winter 2019 - 8
The Right Angle Journal - Winter 2019 - 9
The Right Angle Journal - Winter 2019 - 10
The Right Angle Journal - Winter 2019 - 11
The Right Angle Journal - Winter 2019 - 12
The Right Angle Journal - Winter 2019 - Index to Advertisers
The Right Angle Journal - Winter 2019 - Locations
The Right Angle Journal - Winter 2019 - cover3
The Right Angle Journal - Winter 2019 - cover4
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