When the work finally comes to an end, the cleaning is done and preparations for the opening are underway, everything looks perfect. Coatings are all in their proper place, shining and with the intended color; wood surfaces are as yet unmarked and there is even a feeling of freshness and new life. Photographs mean that, for many, this vision of perfection is all that will ever be seen.
But this perfection can be superficial. Failing to consider the damaging power of time during design and specification stages means can hasten the appearance of inevitable imperfections. Small fissures, stains, and scuffs among many other problems (that we have all dealt with at some point) begin to appear. The beautiful wood frame, so lovingly chosen, starts to look greyish. The paint fades where the sun hits the strongest. Boards begin to warp and fall from the facade.
It is well known that certain materials age in a more dignified way, acquiring an appearance that can impart a new charm to the structure. Copper and zinc, for example, take on a different color and protective patina over time. Concrete, if preacautions are taken, can remain practically the same over the years. On the other hand, some materials need more frequent maintenance. More still, due to specific manufacturing processes or dimensions, are difficult to replace when they fail, creating a huge problem for customers. Is it the architect's duty to predict how the work will age over time? Should specifying materials that are easily replaceable be mandatory (or at least, strongly encouraged)? Is there enough information on the market for this to be feasible?
In your opinion, do architects care enough about how a work will age? Or do we simply focus on designing for a perfect picture and opening day? We want to know your opinion!
* The cover photo of the article shows Marcel Breuer's Parador Ariston, which is currently in a state of dereliction, with preservation initiatives through the Facebook page “Recuperemos el Ariston"