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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 38.djvu/212

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

gigantic museum, there would be no complaints, no fault-findings, no grumblings. If houses were not to live in, architects could pursue their occupations without inconvenience, and design fronts and windows and turrets and all sorts of knickknacks to their hearts' content. Unfortunately, this ideal state can never be realized; and, as people must conform to the designs of architects—must have turrets where they do not want them, windows where they are least needed, and all sorts of beautifications because they are in the latest style—there is constant conflict between builder and occupant, between architect and client. Nor could anything else be expected when buildings are judged solely by their æsthetic appearance. The history of architecture carries the comforting assurance that structures can be both beautiful and useful; and, in fact, in the best buildings the two elements are so closely united as to be scarcely distinguished. In our time, however, attention is paid to only one of them, and it is, therefore, impossible to obtain satisfactory results.

Writers on architecture make a broad distinction between construction and architecture, claiming that they are two different things, and that, while all architecture is construction, all construction is not architecture. Never was a difference productive of more perverted ideas. A factory is not architectural, because it is plain, unadorned construction. Put on some ornament, add a fancy roof, a cornice, and a balcony, and it at once becomes architectural, though none of these things have aught to do with the uses of the building, but frequently conflict with them. Such a definition may be maintained in order to have certain limitations, but it is clearly absurd to say that a building only properly comes within the province of architecture when certain adjuncts are added to it which, while they may increase its aesthetic appearance, detract from its usefulness.

The history of architecture is the story of the attempt of man to adapt his life to the environment in which he is placed. The Abipone under his mat, the Assyrian in his thick-walled house of brick, the Roman in his conveniently arranged villa, the mediæval baron in his castle, the French monarch in his richly appointed palace, are but so many instances of the influence of climate and geological conditions, nature of the soil, products of the land, extent of intercourse with other peoples, temperature, rainfall, manner of living, and many other phenomena which have caused the evolution of various grades of society, and which thus express themselves in visible form. In Assyria the buildings were of clay, because that was the only substance the land afforded. In Greece they were of stone, because it was abundant and easily obtained. The mediæval baron intrenched himself in a heavily guarded fortress, because the country was