Does a Good Cause Inevitably Lead to Good Architecture?

The Ronald McDonald House near Lurie's Children's Hospital, in Chicago. Photo for the Chicago Tribune by Michael Tercha.

In his architectural review of the Ronald McDonald House, a home for families with children at the nearby Children’s Hospital, Blair Kamin came up against a moral dilemna:

How can you criticize a building whose cause is so much better than its architectural form? 

As Kamin says: “Criticize anything in such building and you’re bound to sound insensitive, as if aesthetics mattered more than cancer. Yet all urban buildings, no matter what their purpose, are obliged to appeal to a broader constituency — namely, the people who pass by them every day.  To say [it's no prize-winning work of architecture] isn’t to deny the good that’s done there. It’s to wish that the building excelled equally at raising the quality of the cityscape.”

Ultimately, Kamin’s quandary comes down to a central architectural question: to what extent must a building, even one which serves a higher purpose, improve the context in which it finds itself? At the end of the day – are form and function equally important?

Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

Story via ArchRecord and the Chicago Tribune

About this author
Cite: Vanessa Quirk. "Does a Good Cause Inevitably Lead to Good Architecture?" 20 Jul 2012. ArchDaily. Accessed . <> ISSN 0719-8884

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