Monday, December 17, 2007

Uses and needs / Form follows function

Fallingwater
Herewith a continuation of this blog's recurring commentary on John Dos Passos's epic trilogy, U.S.A. (1930-36). (Previous entries: prologue to U.S.A., "The body of an American.") Among the biographical vignettes interspersed throughout U.S.A., perhaps none captures the spirit of Jurisdynamics as vividly as dos Passos's portrait of Frank Lloyd Wright:
Near and Far are beaten (to imagine the new city you must blot out every ingrained habit of the past, build a nation from the ground up with the new tools). For the architect there are only uses:

the incredible multiplication of functions, strength and tension in metal,

the dynamo, the electric coil, radio, the photoelectric cell, the internalcombustion motor,

glass

concrete;

and needs. (Tell us, doctors of philosophy, what are the needs of a man. At least a man needs to be notjailed notafraid nothungry notcold not without love, not a worker for a power he has never seen

that cares nothing for the uses and needs of a man or a woman or a child.)

Building a building is building the lives of the workers and dwellers in the building.

The buildings determine civilization as the cells in the honeycomb the functions of bees.
Frank Lloyd WrightLouis Sullivan
Form follows function. Wright learned well from his first boss, Louis Sullivan. Herewith Sullivan's full statement of his signature principle:
It is the pervading law of all things organic and inorganic,
Of all things physical and metaphysical,
Of all things human and all things super-human,
Of all true manifestations of the head,
Of the heart, of the soul,
That the life is recognizable in its expression,
That form ever follows function. This is the law.

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