Group Writing: Build It and Who Cares If They Come or Not

 

folly, (from French folie, “foolishness”), also called Eyecatcher, in architecture, a costly, generally nonfunctional building that was erected to enhance a natural landscape.

I’m in the building business.  I spend the day in concrete, steel, wood, foundation designs. It’s a means to an end though. The structures serve to educate (schools), manufacture (industrial), entertain (state park work), sell (retail), or praise (churches). Schedules are tight and budgets tighter. Savvy owners want to maximize their dollars and architects want to throw in some flourishes. They program each square foot for efficiency.  There is a very real sense of ‘build it and they will come.’  It’s good work if you can get it.

Stone Art

But what fun would be a folly. Just to throw up a structure on no schedule and no particular budget. Exercising the master crafts for the sole purpose of their goodness and art. It sits squarely in the art-for-art’s sake basket – build it and who cares if they come or not.

Because you cannot convince me that a good mason isn’t every bit the artist as a good painter or musician. The only difference is he spends his years working off the sheet music someone else wrote.  I think that he spends some of his time wondering what he would build, given the chance.

Yes, the classical architectural folly sits elegantly in some corner of a grand estate. And the lord of that estate peeled off some funds to be used on a structure whose purpose was its self-existence. Quirky, unexpected, surprising, happy – those are not words we use to describe the new strip mall.  Or for that matter the new building on campus.  Too bad we don’t build more just for the joy of it.  To see a structure erected that exemplifies the clean lines, beautiful proportions, and clever framing.

Beauty is in excellence. Excellence takes many forms. Folly is one of them.

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  1. WillowSpring Member
    WillowSpring
    @WillowSpring

    Beautiful – with just a touch of Folly.

    • #1
  2. Addiction Is A Choice Member
    Addiction Is A Choice
    @AddictionIsAChoice

    This may be sacrilege but I think “The Twin Towers” were hideous monstrosities!

    And as far as the whole “9-11 was an inside job” theory is concerned, I’d blame cut-rate, mobbed-up steel and concrete before blaming the Bushes or Illuminati.

    • #2
  3. B. W. Wooster Member
    B. W. Wooster
    @HenryV

    Addiction Is A Choice (View Comment):

    This may be sacrilege but I think “The Twin Towers” were hideous monstrosities!

    And as far as the whole “9-11 was an inside job” theory is concerned, I’d blame cut-rate, mobbed-up steel and concrete before blaming the Bushes or Illuminati.

    I would agree on the architecture side of the comment.  But the fact that those buildings stood long enough after taking a load that no code anticipated to allow the majority of occupants to exit, is a testament to the overall quality and integrity of the structural design.  Without getting into the weeds on it, beams are only as good as the connections.  If some bolts were sheared as a result of the impact (as would certainly have been the case), it allowed entire sections of floors to collapse – with impact – on the floor below.  

    • #3
  4. Addiction Is A Choice Member
    Addiction Is A Choice
    @AddictionIsAChoice

    B. W. Wooster (View Comment):
    But the fact that those buildings stood long enough after taking a load that no code anticipated to allow the majority of occupants to exit, is a testament to the overall quality and integrity of the structural design. 

    Very good point!  Thanks B.W., great post!

    • #4
  5. Juliana Member
    Juliana
    @Juliana

    I’ve always liked the idea of a little bench in the woods, or the Christian crossroads shrines. Little unexpected pleasures. Maybe a Hobbit door on a large tree, or an unexplained niche in a stone wall. A gnome peeking out from under a bush. A bit less elegant than a folly, perhaps, but just as spirit-lifting.

    • #5
  6. Doctor Robert Member
    Doctor Robert
    @DoctorRobert

    Architecture is the finest of the fine arts.  The exteriors of St Paul’s (London), the Parthenon, or the Dancing Building in Prague are more expressive than most symphonies, most sculpture, most paintings.

    • #6
  7. OccupantCDN Coolidge
    OccupantCDN
    @OccupantCDN

    B. W. Wooster (View Comment):

    Addiction Is A Choice (View Comment):

    This may be sacrilege but I think “The Twin Towers” were hideous monstrosities!

    And as far as the whole “9-11 was an inside job” theory is concerned, I’d blame cut-rate, mobbed-up steel and concrete before blaming the Bushes or Illuminati.

    I would agree on the architecture side of the comment. But the fact that those buildings stood long enough after taking a load that no code anticipated to allow the majority of occupants to exit, is a testament to the overall quality and integrity of the structural design. Without getting into the weeds on it, beams are only as good as the connections. If some bolts were sheared as a result of the impact (as would certainly have been the case), it allowed entire sections of floors to collapse – with impact – on the floor below.

    Great point. As much as these building were a monstrosity they were at least well constructed monstrosities. I can’t think of another building that could take a high speed hit from a Boeing 737 (at near full fuel loads) and remain standing for an hour. Could you name one? (I’ll take the great pyramids off the table)

    There is the facebook group called “Architectural Shaming” that is fun to look at – its amazing how many weird awful and strange buildings there are.

    Also check out Fowler’s Folly in Fishkill NY.

    • #7
  8. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    Juliana (View Comment):

    I’ve always liked the idea of a little bench in the woods, or the Christian crossroads shrines. Little unexpected pleasures. Maybe a Hobbit door on a large tree, or an unexplained niche in a stone wall. A gnome peeking out from under a bush. A bit less elegant than a folly, perhaps, but just as spirit-lifting.

    Someone with a mold or two and a surfeit of concrete caromed about my town many years ago selling concrete geese door to door. You would think that such a project would meet with little success. He must have had quite a sales pitch, because for years you would encounter them flanking the front door, or standing guard over the backyard garden. They always make me smile when I run across one now.

    • #8
  9. Concretevol Thatcher
    Concretevol
    @Concretevol

    I have said for years I would love to work on a job where I am told “take as long as you like just make it great”.  The reality is more like, “site prep (grade work, underground utilities, caissons, etc…) took way longer than expected so you need to go faster to get back on schedule.”  

    Probably the closest job to what you describe that I have worked on was a Cathedral project I wrote about here:

    https://ricochet.com/499910/archives/cathedral-of-the-most-sacred-heart-of-jesus/

     

     

    • #9
  10. Juliana Member
    Juliana
    @Juliana

    Concretevol (View Comment):

    I have said for years I would love to work on a job where I am told “take as long as you like just make it great”. The reality is more like, “site prep (grade work, underground utilities, caissons, etc…) took way longer than expected so you need to go faster to get back on schedule.”

    Probably the closest job to what you describe that I have worked on was a Cathedral project I wrote about here:

    https://ricochet.com/499910/archives/cathedral-of-the-most-sacred-heart-of-jesus/

     

     

    That is gorgeous! I often lament how poorly designed new buildings are – with no reason for awe, or even appreciation of the work involved. Newer churches can be an exception. This is similar to St Cecilia’s in the Wisconsin Dells (on a smaller scale) which was just rebuilt from the ground up a few years ago.

    • #10
  11. Randy Webster Member
    Randy Webster
    @RandyWebster

    Concretevol (View Comment):

    I have said for years I would love to work on a job where I am told “take as long as you like just make it great”. The reality is more like, “site prep (grade work, underground utilities, caissons, etc…) took way longer than expected so you need to go faster to get back on schedule.”

    Probably the closest job to what you describe that I have worked on was a Cathedral project I wrote about here:

    https://ricochet.com/499910/archives/cathedral-of-the-most-sacred-heart-of-jesus/

     

     

    @Concretevol only had to build it.  I had to try to figure out how much it would cost.

    • #11
  12. B. W. Wooster Member
    B. W. Wooster
    @HenryV

    OccupantCDN (View Comment):
    Great point. As much as these building were a monstrosity they were at least well constructed monstrosities. I can’t think of another building that could take a high speed hit from a Boeing 737 (at near full fuel loads) and remain standing for an hour. Could you name one? (I’ll take the great pyramids off the table)

    Not really.  It’s such an unusual condition, that commercial buildings can’t include that in their normal budgets. I’m sure there are hardened emergency or national security structures that can sustain those loads – or perhaps tornado-proofed buildings.  Terrific comment on the great pyramids though!  

    • #12
  13. B. W. Wooster Member
    B. W. Wooster
    @HenryV

    Concretevol (View Comment):

    I have said for years I would love to work on a job where I am told “take as long as you like just make it great”. The reality is more like, “site prep (grade work, underground utilities, caissons, etc…) took way longer than expected so you need to go faster to get back on schedule.”

    Probably the closest job to what you describe that I have worked on was a Cathedral project I wrote about here:

    https://ricochet.com/499910/archives/cathedral-of-the-most-sacred-heart-of-jesus/

     

     

    Wow.  That is incredibly impressive work. Using modern techniques and materials to create a structure that looks like it’s been there hundreds of years.  Love it.  We do a lot of work in the Tri-Cities and sometimes make it to Knoxville.  I’d love to see it in person.  And the whole vibe makes me think of this legendary story.  Great project – great work.  

    • #13
  14. OccupantCDN Coolidge
    OccupantCDN
    @OccupantCDN

    B. W. Wooster (View Comment):

    OccupantCDN (View Comment):
    Great point. As much as these building were a monstrosity they were at least well constructed monstrosities. I can’t think of another building that could take a high speed hit from a Boeing 737 (at near full fuel loads) and remain standing for an hour. Could you name one? (I’ll take the great pyramids off the table)

    Not really. It’s such an unusual condition, that commercial buildings can’t include that in their normal budgets. I’m sure there are hardened emergency or national security structures that can sustain those loads – or perhaps tornado-proofed buildings. Terrific comment on the great pyramids though!

    Yes, but such buildings are normally quite short – I think a good part of the plane could impact the ground and not the structure.

    • #14
  15. Randy Webster Member
    Randy Webster
    @RandyWebster

    B. W. Wooster (View Comment):

    OccupantCDN (View Comment):
    Great point. As much as these building were a monstrosity they were at least well constructed monstrosities. I can’t think of another building that could take a high speed hit from a Boeing 737 (at near full fuel loads) and remain standing for an hour. Could you name one? (I’ll take the great pyramids off the table)

    Not really. It’s such an unusual condition, that commercial buildings can’t include that in their normal budgets. I’m sure there are hardened emergency or national security structures that can sustain those loads – or perhaps tornado-proofed buildings. Terrific comment on the great pyramids though!

    I’ve estimated several buildings with tornado-proof rooms in them.  The rooms are usually just a concrete box.

    • #15
  16. Concretevol Thatcher
    Concretevol
    @Concretevol

    B. W. Wooster (View Comment):

    Concretevol (View Comment):

    I have said for years I would love to work on a job where I am told “take as long as you like just make it great”. The reality is more like, “site prep (grade work, underground utilities, caissons, etc…) took way longer than expected so you need to go faster to get back on schedule.”

    Probably the closest job to what you describe that I have worked on was a Cathedral project I wrote about here:

    https://ricochet.com/499910/archives/cathedral-of-the-most-sacred-heart-of-jesus/

     

     

    Wow. That is incredibly impressive work. Using modern techniques and materials to create a structure that looks like it’s been there hundreds of years. Love it. We do a lot of work in the Tri-Cities and sometimes make it to Knoxville. I’d love to see it in person. And the whole vibe makes me think of this legendary story. Great project – great work.

    We can have a mini-meetup if you are this way sometime!  

    • #16
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