Right now, in most cities and towns there is a large shopping center or strip-mall being built somewhere.
In Tallahassee, where I currently live, a Whole Foods recently opened up alongside a number of small restaurants and stores. When I moved here less than a year ago the construction looked like it was just beginning.
The large shopping center went up quickly. I have no doubt you can accurately imagine the standard style it was built in and the deceptive material that makes up the building’s facade. It appears as if the columns are solid cement covered with a nice layer of stucco. However, if you give them a good knockin’ you get the impression you could punch right through the façade. This is done in the name of efficiency and cost.
Apparently before the Whole Foods shopping center was built, a movie theater complex was there. It was leveled. I wouldn’t be surprised to hear something else was demolished before the movie theater. Who knows how many building have been erected and demolished on that same plot of land.
Demolition then construction.
I’ve been blessed to stand inside a number of the Cathedrals in the UK. The architecture is absolutely awesome, as in awe inspiring. It is incredible to consider how long the buildings have been around. Century after century the architecture unceasingly evokes awe in each observer that enters.
As for the Cathedrals, it is not simply the historical significance that keeps the buildings standing. It is the fact that they are art.
The materials obviously must stand the tests of time and weather, but it is the architecture that must be timeless.
Art often falls by the wayside when rapid technological growth is combined with an obsession for practicality, efficiency, cost effectiveness, speed, utilitarianism, among other things. What is the tangible value of art anyways?
The buildings of our ancestors are a powerful illustration that sustainability goes beyond the tangible.