I once thought that a great name for an Architecture firm would be "Details and Effects."
"Why?" you ask.
Because details are part of what makes separate really great design from the mundane. Consider the apartment buildings and homes in the historic districts in Evanston, Lakewood-Balmoral, River Forest or Oak Park. They are not much different in terms of their overall massing from others in adjacent neighborhoods but the details and the overall effects they create raise the buildings to another level. This example of a 100 year old brick half-tudor, gabled apartment building with a cut-limestone, gothic entrance and a slate roof illustrates this. The entrance is set off by its arch and by its material against the wire-cut, dark brown brick. It is a color and material scheme that stands the test of time.
The entry has cut glass. It features fall colors and fallen leaves. The tile floor is a mixtures of bone, dark bone, honey and a chestnut brown. They outlines are imperfect and this creates a rhythm and visual interest.
(We personally think the earth-tone color scheme is gorgeous.) The textures make a difference as well. The bricks and tile are hand made and have enough imperfections to ensure variety. This attention to detail is crucial and one that we follow in our projects. Hand made and natural materials generally have a level of detail that bring a project to life. We think that is important. Do you?
Details are a bit misunderstood today. Rem Koolhaas said that "There are no details anymore." I have had students repeat this to me in design studio. Many fresh-minted faculty also have stated this. The one thing they have in common is they have never designed and built an actual building. Yes, details matter and, yes, there will always be details, even if there are hidden, no matter the latest fashion. A hidden detail is many times more difficult to engineer, design and fabricate than an obvious one. We will talk more about this in a future post.