Samantha Markham
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Samantha Markham

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"You've Got 5 Minutes, Kid: Why Architecture Matters"

On Monday, April 18th, the AIA Dallas Architecture Matters Committee hosted “You've Got 5 Minutes, Kid: Why Architecture Matters”. Eight presenters each had five minutes to share their perspective and thoughts on “why architecture matters” and the result was phenomenal.

There is one question that all architects try to answer throughout their career – “Why does architecture matter?” It may seem like a simple and straight-forward question, but the answer is much more complex and diverse. Does it matter because it creates the spaces where we work, live, and play? Does it matter because it inspires, motivates, and empowers? Does it matter merely because it is a necessity of life?

Each of the eight presenters were bold, creative, inspiring, and best of all – unique. They each brilliantly demonstrated the fact that there is not a definitive answer to the question “why does architecture matter?” From poetry to music, from art to movies, from the U.S. to Europe, each presentation showed the impact that architecture plays in our daily lives.

The event concluded with a great dialogue between the presenters and the audience. Questions arose such as “How does music, poetry, or art inspire design, as well as, emphasize why architecture matters?” Overall, each presentation, question, and discussion led us to realize how much architecture does matter.

Thank you again to our eight outstanding presenters! Find their short summaries below.

Sarah Cumming, Page

Architecture seeks to elevate the spirit and bring a spark to the soul. In speaking to a room full of architects I believe that the nature of our profession puts us in a unique position to be inherently optimistic people. A people who dare to believe that the places we create matter - that the people around us matter. And that something we build might, in fact, touch the world.

Ryan Flener, GFF

True architecture, unlike most other signs in the built environment, is built upon love, rooted in Eros and Philia. The democratic polarization of our profession as "one or the other"... has manifested itself in the modern movement, where the nobility and humility of defining human space has become fashionably economical. To the point that the home is the primary focus, not the public environment. The song Ryan wrote and performed can be found at the end of the blog.

Giselle Levy, Jacobs

Architecture is a place where life happens. It’s the place we trust life to happen. This trust that we have in the built environment is the reason why we must recognize that our profession is, in fact, a social responsibility of the utmost importance. Architecture matters because it is the most powerful tool we have in the service of transforming the way we live.

Carolyn Mulligan, Corgan

Rather than merely reacting to cultural phenomena, by becoming curious observers of cities, people and processes, architects have the ability to anticipate and form conclusions unseen to the rest of the world through our architecture. Much of recent built work in the Netherlands and New York City, has grown from this mindset. A result of architects being meticulously observant yet playful partakers in the world...

Khang Nguyen, Beck Architecture

The connection between Architecture and Human: As 1 of 7 arts including sculpture, painting, dance, music, cinematography, literature, architecture does inspire us in every aspect of life, and deeply touch our emotions. "The meaning of architecture is to leave something bigger than us." -David Messersmith, FAIA

Vickie Patel, HKS

To say something matters, is to say it is of importance, value, consequence, significance, and relevance. Architecture embodies all five of those characteristics. Architecture is important, valuable, consequential, significant, and relevant - it matters.

Swapnil Ukey, Brinkley Sargent Wiginton Architects

We spend 90% of our time surrounded by buildings. It means architecture is shaping us in ways in which we don’t even realize. We can enter a building, move through it and over a period of time experience a wide range of emotions: sound, colors, odors, temperatures, lights and sights. The point is consciously or unconsciously we react to what we see and feel around us and that’s why architecture matters.

Briana Williams, CYDONIA

Architecture has historically served as a frontier for great cultural achievements.  The cityscape or monument functions as a format for the Utopian image. Artists today find merit in the tension between potential and pre-existing realities that architecture encapsulates. This presentation outlines a few ways in which contemporary artists excavate these motivations in architecture.


Ryan Flener’s Song “Built Upon Love”

We made the great mistake
On the great escape
The suburban race
We missed the boat to the first cause (ref 1)
We paint by number
Now we’ve painted up the whole goddamn thing (ref 2)
You ever wonder why you can’t feel yourself
Trapped in the walls of the endless house? (ref 3)
Because if its built on love
Well then I think we’ve made it
And while you can’t explain it
You get a feeling you’ve been there before in the night
And you like it
Its space and the weight of a light on your heart (ref 4)
If only we’d find how to build it all
Out of love
Ain’t it a shame how we build upon the same old hate
And over
And over
Might it be a sign why we gathered here in this glass cage
To occupy the bottom line
Lord knows if love can be rearranged
To the top of the noblest of stones
Because if its built on love
Then so long to jaded
Farewell to forsaken
Welcome the scale of man’s pleasures and pain in design
And you’ll like it
Crowd the streets and a neighbor will lend you a hand
And ill build you flowers when you break my fee
Out of love