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What Is Architecture?


The Gates in Central Park, New York City was a temporary installation by Christo and Jeanne-Claude

The Gates in Central Park, New York City was a temporary installation by Christo and Jeanne-Claude. Interesting... but is it architecture?

Photo © Jackie Craven

The word architecture can have many meanings. Depending on the context, architecture can refer to:

1. any man-made building or structure
2. a man-made building or structure that is important, large, or highly creative
3. a carefully designed object, such as a chair, a spoon, or a tea kettle
4. a design for a city, town, park, or landscape
5. the art or science of designing and building buildings, structures, objects, and outdoor spaces
6. a building style or method
7. a plan for organizing space
8. the flow of information on a Web page
9. the planned design of any kind of system
10. a systematic arrangement of information or ideas

How do you define architecture? Tell us!

Is This Architecture?

Depending on your perspective, you might use the word architecture to describe any number of things. Which of the items listed below would you call architecture?
  • A circus tent
  • An egg carton
  • A roller coaster
  • A log cabin
  • A skyscraper
  • A computer program
  • A political campaign

Frank Lloyd Wright on Architecture

Here's what the American architect, Frank Lloyd Wright, had to say about Architecture:

"What is architecture anyway? Is it the vast collection of the various buildings which have been built to please the varying taste of the various lords of mankind? I think not.

"No, I know that architecture is life; or at least it is life itself taking form and therefore it is the truest record of life as it was lived in the world yesterday, as it is lived today or ever will be lived. So architecture I know to be a Great Spirit....

"Architecture is that great living creative spirit which from generation to generation, from age to age, proceeds, persists, creates, according to the nature of man, and his circumstances as they change. That is really architecture."

—Frank Lloyd Wright, from In the Realm of Ideas (compare prices)

Common Misspellings:

arcitecture, arkitecture, artitecture, architector, architechur, arcitechur

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