We’ve all commented on a building’s character before. An apartment might have it because of some special oak trim, or a building might not fit with the ‘character’ of its neighborhood. In this video, architectural designer and professor Stewart Hicks takes a close look at the meaning and origins of this elusive concept. Why do we use this word for both people and for buildings? Characters also occur in fiction, does that help explain how buildings tell stories? From the Enlightenment architects Ledoux, Boullée, and Lequeu, to the Beetlejuice house, to contemporary practices exploring what it might mean for a building to have a face or a posture, we get to the bottom of why architects might consider architectural character to be a good idea.
Link to the issue of the journal Mas Context on character: https://www.mascontext.com/32-
Architecture with Stewart is a YouTube journey exploring architecture’s deep and enduring stories in all their bewildering glory. Weekly videos and occasional live events breakdown a wide range of topics related to the built environment in order to increase their general understanding and advocate their importance in shaping the world we inhabit.
Stewart Hicks is an architectural design educator that leads design studios and lecture courses as an Associate Professor in the School of Architecture at the University of Illinois at Chicago. He also serves as an Associate Dean in the College of Architecture, Design, and the Arts and is the co-founder of the practice Design With Company. His work has earned awards such as the Architecture Record Design Vanguard Award or the Young Architect’s Forum Award and has been featured in exhibitions such as the Chicago Architecture Biennial and Design Miami, as well as at the V&A Museum and Tate Modern in London. His writings can be found in the co-authored book Misguided Tactics for Propriety Calibration, published with the Graham Foundation, as well as essays in MONU magazine, the AIA Journal Manifest, Log, bracket, and the guest-edited issue of MAS Context on the topic of character architecture.