Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 38.djvu/214

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202 THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

pations have presented fresh, problems with which to deal. The increase of great corporations, the building of railroads, new forms of transportation by water, the changes of life in every state, have caused new difficulties for the architect, all of which must be correctly solved if we are to make any true progress.

In our houses, stores, office-buildings, hotels, homes, factories, machine-shops, depots of construction, warehouses, churches, dwellings, and places of amusement, there is a constant need for the application of new ideas and the devising of new methods. The work that is before our architects is immense, and the way in which they apply themselves to it will largely influence our future advancement. Yet in the face of all this the battle of the styles waxes furious; and if one obtains a handsomer building than his neighbor, he is told not to complain of its inconven- iences, but to be satisfied that he has got so much. There never was a time when the need of a practical architecture was more pressing than now, and there never was a time when it was so persistently neglected.

And what is a practical architecture ? Is it one in which beauty is sacrificed to utility, where plainness is to be preferred to ornament, where art is subordinated to engineering ? Not at all ; we can have beauty and utility, art and engineering, all in one building, and still be practical and in line with good architect- ural work. It is true that many "practical" buildings are ex- tremely ugly, and many great works of engineering eminently hideous. It is small wonder at times that there is a revulsion against the practical and a demand for more of the beautiful ; but the error here is as great as when beauty is sacrificed to utility. Use is by no means synonymous with ugliness, and it is quite as important to combat such a view as to condemn beautiful things because they are useless. Practical architecture does not imply any compromise between the two elements, but it does imply a strict application of common sense to all material -things. There is no reason why architecture should be denied the treatment from the point of view of sound sense that is given to every other department of thought and progress ; it is too closely connected with the necessities of life to be made the victim of absurdity.

There is scarcely a limit to the number of examples of the neg- lect of natural conditions that may be gathered from the archi- tecture that prevails among us. In the search for the beautiful, the demand for impressive facades, the taste for complicated ornament, and a most singular appreciation of the odd, the gro- tesque, and the ugly, there is little attention paid to matters which seem self-evident and are of really vital importance. Windows are arranged to suit a symmetrical facade, whether they are just what are needed for the rooms or not, and, even

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