Paul Goldberger knows a little something about architecture. As the architecture critic for The New Yorker, writing his celebrated “Sky Line” column since 1997, he also holds the Joseph Urban Chair in Design and Architecture at The New School in Manhattan. After beginning his career at the New York Times, he received a Pulitzer Prize for Distinguished Criticism. When he has something to say, there is a definite reason to listen.
The title of his book, Why Architecture Matters, might seem self-evident, even more so than the other books in the Why X Matters series, because architecture seems such a fundamental and foundational (no pun intended) part of civilization. Where would we be without buildings? Yes, that seems a dumb question. But, of course, that is not what Goldberger is writing. As we come to the end of National Poetry and Architecture months, Goldberger’s aesthetic appreciation of architecture, with his beautiful literary style, seem fitting to close:
The making of architecture is intimately connected to the knowledge that buildings instill within us emotional reactions. They can make us feel and they can also make us think. Architecture begins to matter when it brings delight and sadness and perplexity and awe along with a roof over our heads. It matters when it creates serenity or exhilaration, and it matters just as much, I have to say, when it inspires anxiety, hostility, or fear. Buildings can do all of these things, and more.