• Louis Sullivan (1856-1924, American)
  • Cass Gilbert (1859-1934, American)
  • William Van Allen (1883-1954, American)
  • Ludwig Mies van der Rohe (1883-1969, German)
  • Renzo Piano (1937- , Italian)
  • Richard Rogers(1933- , Italian)
  • Ove Arup (1895-1888, English)
  • Jean Prouvé (1901-1984, French)
  • Charles Voysey (1857-1941, English)
  • Le Corbusier (1887-1965, French)
  • Gerrit Rietveld (1888-1964, Dutch)
  • Owen Williams (1890-1969, Welsh)
  • Pier Luigi Nervi (1891-1979, Italian)
  • William Henry Barlow (1812-1902, English)
  • Berthold Lubetkin, (1901-1990, Russian)
  • Willis Carrier (1876-1950, American)
  • Graeme Haldane (1897-1981, Scottish)
  • Alexander Trotter (1857-1947, English)
  • Émile Fourcault (1862-1919, Belgian)
  • Édouard Benedictus (1878-1930, French)
  • Gustave Lyon (1857-1936, French)
  • Victor Horta (1861-1947, Belgian)
  • Fred Severud (1899-1990, Norwegian)
  • Eero Saarinen (1910-1961, Finnish)

  • The advances in high rise building during the 1880s and 1890s in the United States were made possible by certain developers recognizing that their real estate dreams would be realized not by architects working alone, but by architects working in collaboration with engineers.

    Engineers were prominent in many of the early building design firms in the United States. In New York, George Post and in Chicago, William Le Baron Jenney both started their careers as engineers and other practices soon learned the benefits of collaboration between architect and engineer and several of the most successful had one or more partners who had trained as an engineer—Adler of Adler & Sullivan, Root of Burnham & Root, and both partners of Holabird and Roche.

    As a direct result of the close collaboration with engineers, a few architects of genius would find ways to forge their identity on steel frame buildings;

  • Louis Sullivan’s Guaranty Building in Buffalo, New York (1895)
  • Cass Gilbert’s Woolworth Building in NYC (1913)
  • William Van Allen’s Chrysler Building in NYC (1930)
  • Mies van der Rohe’s Seagram Building in NYC (1958)

  • Guaranty Building - Buffalo, NY - 1895
    Architect: Louis Sullivan
    Woolworth Building - New York - 1913
    Architect: Cass Gilbert
    Chrysler Building - New York - 1930
    Architect: William Van Allen
    Seagram Building - New York - 1958
    Architect: Mies van der Rohe

    And in Europe the first building that truly celebrated steel in its architecture was completed nineteen years later in 1977

  • Renzo Piano and Richard Rogers', Centre Pompidou in Paris (in collaboration with engineering firm, Ove Arup)
  • New Structural Materials

    New structural materials do not come along very often: cast iron in the 1790s, reinforced concrete in the 1890s. The 1950 saw the arrival of two more, both of which owe their development to the wartime aircraft industries; glued, laminated timber (Glulam), and aluminum.

    The high specific strength and stiffness of timber has always made it especially suitable for large span roofs. Because timber was so readily available and because it was easy to transport over long distances to locations with no locally grown timber, and because skills needed to erect timber structures were readily available, American engineers used timber for many large roofs in the 1930s, 40s and 50s while European engineers were more inclined to use reinforced concrete or steel.

    The strength and stiffness of wood seemed to make it an ideal material for aircraft, however in an age when adhesives were weak and water-soluble, this advantage was offset by the weight of nails or screws needed to assemble the wood components. It wasn’t until the 1940s when suitable adhesives were developed that enabled the manufacture of plywood and other built-up wooden elements used in aircraft.

    This war-time research led to the development of epoxy resin glues which opened an entirely new range of products for the building industry, such as Glulam, laminated veneer lumber (LVL), and plywood, chipboard and fiberboard. This benefit coming after the war was greatest in North America where timber was plentiful and steel in short supply.

    Brick Breeden Field House - Bozeman, MT - 1956
    Glue-laminated timber dome

    Aluminum was also in abundance immediately after World War 11, when it was no longer needed for building aircraft. The Dome of Discovery built for the Festival of Britain in 1951 was probably the largest aluminum structure ever constructed; aluminum was chosen not only for its lightness but also because it captured the spirit of the postwar years, which inspired many new images, ideas, and designs.

    Dome of Discovery at the Festival of Britain - London - 1951
    Engineer:Freeman & Fox Partners
    Architect: Ralph Tubbs
    Interior showing triangulated lattice roof trusses (right)

    A particular advantage of aluminum is that, unlike any other material, it can be easily manufactured in many shapes using three different processes-rolling, casting, and extrusion.

    This appealed to the sculptor, architect, and engineer Jean Prouve (1901-84), and he exploited the characteristics of all three processes when he designed, in 1954, the pavilion for an exhibition in Paris celebrating the centennial of the discovery of aluminum.

    Pavillon de centanaire de l'Aluminium - Paris - 1954
    Architect: Jean Prouvé

    By the 1950s engineers had learned to analyze materials from the point of view of scientists rather than craftsmen. Engineers now knew that materials had a series of unique generic properties, such as strength, stiffness, ductility, hardness, creep, fatigue behavior, and so on. Knowing these properties meant that it was relatively easy for engineers to incorporate a new material in their designs-a far cry from the early days of cast iron or rein-forced concrete, the use of which had required that hands-on experience be built up over many years.

    Toward Total Design

    In the summer of 1969 Ove Arup, who was then seventy-four, responded to a request by the partners of the firm he had founded in 1946 by writing a paper outlining the aims of the firm (reprinted in Appendix 1). There has seldom, if ever, been a better summary of what modern building engineering is. Central to the firm's aims was what Arup called "total design" or, in later papers, "total architecture"; the term echoed the title of Walter Gropius's 1956 book The Scope of Total Architecture. To Arup it meant that "all relevant design decisions have been considered together and have been integrated into a whole by a well-organized team empowered to fix priorities. "7

    Arup's "Total Design" represents the culmination of his own experience and career from his first work designing buildings with architects in the 1930s, to founding his consulting engineering practice Ove Arup and Partners in 1946, and finally in 1963, the formation of Arup Associates, with design teams comprising engineers of different disciplines and architects delivering a fully inttegrated building design. "Total Design" represents a return to the ideal of a process whereby many different specialties are conmsidered together when designing a building not aby a single individual, but by a team.

    Collaboration between architect, engineer, and builder was not a new idea. Since the early nineteenth century growing numbers of architects and engineers had worked together to create designs that were greater than the sum of their individual parts: Saint George's Hall in Liverpool and London's Crystal Palace were two prominent examples. And the high-rise buildings in late nineteenth-century America were made possible only by an unprecedented degree of collaboration between engineer, architect, and building contractor.

    But the total design concept--the conscious aim to achieve better design by forming an integrated team of designers--took the idea of collaboration to a new level. It had its philo-sophical origins in the Deutsche Werkbund and the Bauhaus group of designers in Germany in the 1910s.

    In the US from the 1880s on commercial pressures to increase net usable floor areas had favored steel-frame buildings. These required increased input from engineers in designing the foundations structure and building services; the architects role was correspondingly diminished. In Europe however, such a diminution of the architect’s role did not appeal to the architectural establishment. European architects hung on to tradition as if blind to the world growing about them.

    While engineers' increased contribution to building design was inevitable in Europe as it had been in 1890s America, the outcome was different. Architects in Europe managed to retain their leading role in building design and there developed two common types of building construction. Where steel-frame construction did become well established especially in Germany and Britain, it comprised a structural frame hidden by a substantial facade of masonry with a traditional appearance. The alternative was to adopt reinforced concrete as the material of construction

    Architectural Concrete

    Reinforced concrete construction had developed in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries in response to two goals:

    1. to establish more effective fireproof con-struction methods, and
    2. to find cheaper alternatives to the expensive steel frame.

    Architects designs for these structures were fundamentally the same as their steel-frame equivalents: columns located on a regular grid, between which spanned beams supported the floors.

    Gradually after 1910 a number of pioneering architects started to realize the new sculptural opportunities that arose from the very nature of reinforced concrete and the method by which it was manufactured.

    Reinforced concrete offered three entirely new opportynities that structural steel does not.

    1. It can generate solid three dimensional forms
    2. It can easily form curved lines & surfaces
    3. It can be used to create thin "sheets" of structure with the ability to carry loads; thus it can be used to make load bearing walls floors that can cantilever out beyond their supports plus concrete shell roofs.

    Together these formed the basis of a new architecture, one not limited to elements in one dimension as with a steel column or beam but that can work in two dimensions as with a slab or in three dimensions as with a solid sculptural form or a curved shell such as a vault or dome.

    Le Corbusier conceived his "Domino" skeleton in 1914. Here for the first time, and with economy. was the architectural expression of the flat slab.

    By the early 1920s Le Corbusier had begun to realize some of his dreams for the new material, and he celebrated them in his book Vers une Architecture (Towards a New Architecture) published in 1923. Unlike the writings of other architects, the book offered enthusiastic praise for engineers and builders. He supported their "mass production spirit" of conceiving, constructing, and living in mass produced houses.

    Le Corbusier shunned the architect's traditional preoccupation with style and went on to provide them with three reminders:


    Our eyes are constructed to enable us to see forms in light. Primary forms are beautiful forms because they can be clearly appreciated. Architects today no longer achieve these simple forms. Working by calculation, engineers employ geometrical forms, satisfying our eyes by their geometry and our understanding by their mathematics; their work is on the direct line of good art.


    A mass is enveloped in its surface, a surface which is divided up according to the directing and generating lines of the mass; and this gives the mass its individuality. Architects today are afraid of geometrical constituents of surfaces. The great problems of modern construction must have a geometrical solution. Forced to work in accordance with the strict needs of exactly determined conditions, engineers make use of form-generating and form-defining elements. They create limpid and moving plastic facts..


    The plan is the generator. Without plan, you have lack of order and wilfulness. The plan holds in itself the essence of sensation. The great problems of tomorrow, dictated by collective necessities, put the question of 'plan' in a new form. Modern life demands, and is waiting for, a new kind of plan, both for the house and for the city.

    To illustrate this point, he uses not medieval churches or Renaissance palaces, but photographs of eight massive reinforced concrete grain silos from the wheat-growing areas of Canada and the United States-"the magnificent FIRST-FRUITS of the new age"

    After about 1918 most countries had ceased granting patents for new means of reinforcing concrete with steel so reinforced concrete had finally become a generic construction material like masonry, steel, or timber.

    The way was now open for architects to work directly with en-gineers independently of the contractors who had owned the patent rights to the reinforcing systems. Initially, the new material was exploited by architects on a rather modest scale, literally, at the domestic scale, as the more adventurous private clients patronized the revolutionary thinkers.

    There can be no more durable image of the flat slab than the Schroeder House by Gerrit Rietveld, built in Utrecht in 1924-25.

    Schroeder House - Utrecht - 1924-25
    Architect: Gerrit Rietveld

    As architects became more familiar with the new material, they realized they could only use it with confidence through collaboration with engineers and contractors. Throughout the 1920s architects gradually began to tackle larger projects in concrete; buildings with a new and distinct appearance began to emerge, especially in continental Europe. These were a far cry from the industrial, engineer-led buildings of the 1910s.

    Notre Dame - Le Raincy, France - 1922 - Architect: Auguste Perret

    Schocken - Stuttgart - 1926
    Architect: Erich Mendelsohn

    Bauhaus - Dessau, Germany - 1926
    Architect: Walter Gropius

    Reinforced concrete offered a rational approach for the architect and engineer to develop jointly the form of the building elements, the mass and the surface, in Le Corbusier's parlance.

    Among the first designers to articulate the rational approach to the detail of building structures was the Welshman Owen Williams, one of very few building designers who excelled as both a structural engineer and an architect. In a number of outstanding buildings, such as the Daily Express Building at right, he consciously used the structural and sculptural characteristics of concrete to express the structural function or duty of building elements.

    Daily Express Building
    London - 1930-32

    Boots Wets Building - Beeston, England - 1930-32 -- Engineer & Architect: Owen Williams

    Boots Wets Building
    Glass-concrete Roof

    This had long been the unconscious outcome of engineers striving to achieve minimum weights for structures such as bridges, the cast iron beams and columns of early nine-teenth-century mills, and the many types of roofs of large buildings. The idea had been captured by Louis Sullivan in 1896 when he observed that it is a law of the natural world that "form ever follows function"; in about 1918, the Bauhaus group of designers adopted this as their guiding principle.

    When expressing structural function in reinforced concrete, however there was a certin deception at work since the outward appearamce of reinforced concrete gives no indication of where the reinforcement is located, or how much is used.

    More recently, when structural expression again became fashionable in the 1980s, the idea that structural function should be expressed in architectural terms was nicely captured in "archi-structure", a word coined by Derek Sugden, an engineer with Arups for nearly forty uears and a founding member of Arup Associates.

    During the 1950s, the Italian engineer Pier Luigi Nervi also delighted in expressing the structural function of many elements of his buildings through their forms, although in many instances the forms are not as strictly necessary as might appear-classic examples of archi-structure.

    Palace of Labor - Turin - 1960-61
    Engineer: Pier Luigi Nervi

    Plan of floor slab

    Drawing for floor slab reinforcement

    Design for Construction

    The final aspect of building construction included in Arup's total design ideal was consideration, at the de-sign stage, of how the actual construction of the building should be facilitated. Such an idea was familiar to indus-tries where mass production was well established, such as machine tool works in the nineteenth century and Henry Ford's automobile factories in the twentieth, but it was not common in the building trades.

    Le Corbusier was perhaps the first architect to embrace the manufacturing process in his philosophy of building. He was prophetic not only in his articulation of the building as a machine, like a car or airplane, but in his understanding of the significance of the manufacturing methods that had developed in the automobile industry. Indeed, Le Corbusier was inspired as much by the methods of mass production as by the idea of reinforced concrete as a material. One of his earliest proposals for residential buildings was that they should be built not of steel-reinforced concrete, but cement reinforced with asbestos fibers, which had been developed recently as a cheap roofing material and as a way to provide fireproofing for structural steelwork. He saw the use of asbestos as the most suitable means of providing mass-produced buildings.

    Maison Monol - France - 1919
    Architect: Le Corbusier

    While Le Corbusier had the vision to see the potential benefits for architecture in considering construction issues at the design stage of buildings, he was not a contractor. Ove Arup was, however.

    And Ove worked for the Danish contracting firm Christiani & Nielsen, which was expand-ing its activities in Britain, and later as chief engineer with another Danish contractor, Kier. Arup saw how his knowledge of construction could help architects, for example, by adapting for use in buildings many techniques of concrete construction that had been developed in civil engineering and industrial construction projects, such as docks, warehouses, and grain silos. One exam-ple, which today seems rather obvious, was to speed up concrete construction by choosing shapes and profiles that could be cast using simple formwork, erected and dismantled quickly, and reused many times.

    Arup realized his dream of bring his engineering expertise to benefit the design of buildings from their very conception to their completion in the work he undertook with Russian architect Berthold Lubetkin (1901-90) and Tecton, the architectural practice he formed in 1932. Arup and Tecton collaborated first on a number of build-ings at the London Zoo, then, in 1935, on the first of two Highpoint apartment buildings in north London, now considered an icon of engineer-architect collaboration.

    Highpoint I - North London - 1935
    Engineer: Ove Arup
    Architects: Berthold Lubetkin and Tecton

    Highpoint I - North London - 1935

    Left: Original concrete frame solution

    Right: Arup's plan for concrete load bearing walls

    Immediately after World War II, Arup set up the consulting engineering firm that today still bears his name. Free now from the constraints of working for a firm of contractors, Arup was able to begin developing his vision of total design, in which architects and engineers collaborate on equal terms in developing building designs from the concept stage through to the completion of detailed design. His firm soon attracted the attention of more and more architects who wanted to work together to create buildings that combined engineering prowess with architectural flair.

    Brynmawr Rubber Factory - South Wales - 1946-51
    Engineer: Ove Arup and Partners
    Architect: Architects Co-Partnership

    Coventry Cathedral - Coventry, England - 1958-62
    Engineer: Ove Arup & Partners
    Architect: Sir Basil Spence

    One of the many teams collaborating for "Total Design" was engineer Fred Severud and architect Eero Saarinen. Their partnership produced the following monumental structures:

    David S. Ingalls Hockey Rink - Yale Univ - 1956-59

    St. Louis Gateway Arch - St. Louis, MO - 1965

    The Building Envelope

    The growing awareness of the importance of providing good daylight inside buildings also had its effect on the construction of buildings. Concrete, being opaque, did not endear itself to many architects. This limitation was overcome by the development in Germany in 1908 of a means of embedding glass blocks into a reinforced concrete slab or shell roof to make what became known as "glass concrete." Under various trade names, it became popular for a while during the 1930s. Glass technology improved markedly in the early twentieth century, resulting in improved quality, larger sizes, and lower prices.

    Glass Making Machines

    The glass-making process of J. H. Lubbers, which was developed around 1905 in the United States, made it possible to manufacture single sheets of glass up to 8 by 1.6 meters. At about the same time the Belgian engineer Emile Fourcault successfully developed a continuous process for making drawn glass on an industrial scale. A band or ribbon of glass was lifted from a vat of molten glass; once solidified, the band could be cut into individual panes without pausing the drawing process.

    The modern float-glass process, which revolutionized glass-making by further increasing the size and quality of glass and reducing its cost, was developed by the English firm Pilkington during the 1950s.

    Cost and quality were not the only factors that revolutionized the use of glass. Normal sheet glass from the factory is relatively weak and brittle. To reduce its susceptibility to breakage, glass used in large building facades was either laminated or toughened, or both.

    Laminated "Safety" Glass

    The first laminated "safety glass," consisting of a film of transparent Celluloid sandwiched between two sheets of glass, was developed for use in automobile windshields in 1910 by the French chemist Edouard Benedictus, and was soon used in buildings.

    Multi-sheet Laminated Glass Screens

    Multiple-sheet laminated glass screens were first produced in the 1930s, and the laminating material polyvinyl butyral (PVB), which is still used today, was developed in 1940.

    Toughened Glass

    Toughened glass was developed around 1930 for automobile windshields by the French firm Saint-Gobain, and it was quickly being used in windows and building facades. This glass is pre-stressed by quickly cooling the outer surface of hot glass sheets using air jets. As the entire glass section cools, the outer surface is drawn into compression by the inner core acting in tension, which helps prevent the spread of micro-cracks in the surface of the glass.

    Glass Cement

    In the mid-1950s the German firm Glasbau Hahn developed glass cement, which enables glass elements to be bonded to form larger structural units such as beams or fins for stiffening large sheets of plate glass.

    All these developments encouraged engineers and architects to make building envelopes ever more transparent. One of the earliest examples of an all-glass facade in Britain was Owen Williams's building for the Boots company.

    Boots "Wets" Building - Beeston, England - 1930-32

    Engineer and Architect: Owen Williams
    Glass-concrete Roof

    The means used to support the glass in a transparent building facade is as important as the glass itself. The specialist discipline now known as "facade engineering" began to develop in the 1930s at a time when many architects, engineers, and builders, for different reasons, were striving to streamline building manufacturing processes. For some architects, the very process of pre-fabrication and off-site production was an aesthetic in itself, very much in the spirit of Le Corbusier's idea of the building as a machine.

    The French designer Jean Prouve was particularly influential. He had trained as an apprentice in the art of metalworking, and throughout his life as a designer retained a passionate concern for how things were made as well as how they appeared. He began his work in buildings designing and making architectural ironwork for staircases, doors, elevators, lights, and a host of other interior fittings. He later turned his attention to windows and the building envelope, using his knowledge of metalworking to devise systems of mullions and glazing bars for supporting glass that were both easy to manufacture and to install in buildings.

    Maison du peuple - Clichy, France - 1937-39

    Glazed Facade by Jean Prouve

    Detail of mullions for the facade

    Since the early 1950s, both steel and aluminum have been used in curtain walling systems, which have developed along two lines:

  • The "strong-back system" consists of rigid panels that are suspended directly from the building frame
  • the "stick system" - a secondary structure is constructed in place to receive the glazing.

  • Lever House - New York - 1952

    One of the first large buildings to use the latter type of curtain wall was Lever House in New York.

    Engineer: Weiskopf & Pickford; Architect: SOM

    Diagram of horizontal mullion and vertical rail that guides window cleaning gondola.

    Apartments - Square Mozart, Paris - 1953

    Aluminum facade by Jean Prouve

    Like many designers after World War 11, Jean Prouve was keen on exploiting certain specific characteristics of aluminum:

    1. its lightness
    2. its resistance to corrosion, and
    3. its ability to be:
      • pressed into panels
      • cast into complex three-dimensional shapes
      • extruded to form an infinite variety of complex cross sections

    It was this ability of aluminum to form extruded sections that made it so suitable for window mullions and facade systems.

    Republic National Bank - Dallas - 1955

    Architects: Wallace Harrison & Max Abramovitz
    Full story pressed aluminum panels


    The first use of sealed double-glazing was in the 1930s in a number of non-domestic buildings, including hotels, apartment blocks, and commercial offices, where it was used as a means of providing acoustic insulation against the growing noise from traffic on city streets. Indeed, at this time, the science of building acoustics consisted largely of seeking ways of solving the problem of noise transmission between rooms. Although this was simply a nuisance for people in apartments and hotel rooms, it was essential to eliminate such noise when designing the growing number of sound studios for radio stations and recording studios. Especially challenging was the need to achieve acoustical separation of the control cubicle of a studio while maintaining visual contact between the music or program producer and the performers.

    When designing recording studios, auditoriums, and concert halls in the 1920s and 1930s, the reverberation time could be predicted using Sabine's method, but otherwise the acoustics was addressed largely as an empirical process. Good common sense guidance had been available in the books of David Boswell Reid, W. S. Inman, and others since the 1830s. This had served designers moderately well, and was usually adequate as long as concert halls were built in traditional ways.

    In the 1920s, however, architects began experimenting with new shapes of auditoriums to which the familiar acoustics design rules did not apply. It became necessary to think about the acoustics of such spaces from first principles, considerng the different paths by which sound might reach the listener in the auditorium and the correct balance between direct sound and sound reflected off the walls or ceiling.

    Salle Pleyel - Paris - 1927

    The French acoustician Gustave Lyon was one of the pioneers of this approach, which he used at the Salle Pleyel in Paris. It was well known that sound travels in straight lines and is reflected like light from hard surfaces, and that this phenomenon can lead to a non-uniform distribution of sound throughout an auditorium. Some designers went to great trouble to try to predict sound paths using what we now call "ray tracing." Before the advent of computers this meant laboriously drawing lines and adjusting the position and curvature of the walls and ceiling to achieve a number of suitable sound paths, in this way avoiding a nonuniform sound field.

    Salle Henry LeBoeuf - Brussels - 1929

    When designing the Salle Henry-le-Boeuf in Brussels in 1928, the architect Victor Horta took a great interest in its acoustics, including the use of ray tracing as a design tool.

    Despite his client's wishes, Horta refused to consult Gustave Lyon, then considered to be the leader of the French school of acoustical design, because he considered that Lyon's purely scientific approach paid insufficient attention to how music actually sounded in concert halls. In making his design decisions on the hall's volume and shape and the form of the ceiling, Horta visited a great many halls in Europe and the United States; he also used ray tracing.

    Manual Ray Tracing - Section
    Manual Ray Tracing - Plan

    In the early 1930s some German acousticians used rays of light in three-dimensional models of theaters to study the path taken by sound waves, but such models were of no help in considering different sound frequencies.

    The science of acoustics received an unexpected boost during World War II, when sound was the primary means for locating the sites of enemy guns and, before the development of radar, for detecting the approach of enemy aircraft. Because sound is transmitted for longer distances in water than in air, underwater microphones were used to detect the engines of ships and submarines. Most sophisticated of all was the development of sonar, an underwater version of radar that detects and locates underwater objects such as mines and vessels by means of sound-wave reflection, and can also be used to build up a three-dimensional map of the seafloor. After the war, many of the experts on underwater sound waves became consultants advising building designers on acoustics.

    Aims & Means
    by Ove Arup

    In 1969, at the age of 74, Ove Arup responded, in print, to his colleagues' request to summarize the ethos of the firm he had created 33 years before. it was published in the firm's Newsletter (Number 37, November 1969). It is considered by some to be the best articulation of what building engineering is today, and is displayed here in its entirety. This article was the precursor to Arup's "Key Speech" (9 July 1970), which can be read in the book Arups on Engineering, or on the company's Web site, www.arup.com.

    I have been asked by my partners to prepare a statement on the aims of the Arup Organisation-what it's all about, what we stand for.

    This is not easy. An enumeration of lofty aims will sound obvious, banal and smug, like the platitudes of a political party speech. We must go further and dig deeper to put across what I suggest we feel we stand for, although it has never been put down in black and white.

    To aim high is not to boast, to show how virtuous we are. But we must aim if we are not to miss the target altogether. And we, the partners, must agree on what we want to aim at, as I think we do, and we must try to get support of all our members for these aims if we are to have any hope of achieving them. We say in effect--These are the things which we think we should try and do. If you agree, help us to do them, if you don't agree, let us have your option--and if we then still can't reconcile our aims, you should consider whether you would not be better off in another organization.

    To aim is one thing, achievement is another. Between them lies a struggle, against external odds, against internal shortcomings. We need to keep our aims in sight to help us in this struggle, to measure the gap between aim and achievement, to fix priorities, to identify odds and shortcomings.

    In the following, the term 'firm' or ·organisation' means the same thing, means 'us' in fact.

    Our aims as an organisation are naturally coloured by the fact that we are a collection of engineers, architects, scientists, administrators, economists, etc, earning our living as a firm by offering our services as designers of what we inelegantly, but comprehensively, may call 'static hardware'.

    They are equally coloured by the fact that this is a firm which originated in Great Britain, using English as its main means of communication and basing its values on what is hoped to be the best in Western European Culture--a humanism which should be able to embrace all humanity if not all ideologies or narrow nationalisms.

    When trying to state the aims of an organisation like ours we must distinguish between these aims and the private aims of the individual members. The latter may vary widely, and could even be antagonistic to the collective aims, in which case it would properly be best to terminate the membership. But the basis of any organisation based on voluntary membership must of course be that the collective aims do not run counter to the private aims, that they do in fact form part of, and support, the private interests. Otherwise the organisation would soon wither away. This applies especially to an organisation like ours whose assets consist of the contributions the individual members can make and which must be freely and eagerly made to be of any value.

    1. Money—and rather more than less.
    2. Interesting work.
    3. To gain experience
    4. To use and develop his potential.
    5. To have or gain a position of responsibility with power to take decisions.
    6. Possibilities of advancement in all these respects.
    7. Security of employment.
    8. Opportunities to travel.
    9. Opportunity for attending conferences or courses of instruction.
    10. To work in a friendly atmosphere.
    11. To work in pleasant surroundings.
    12. To feel that his/her work is worth doing.
    13. To work in a firm respected inside and outside his or her profession.

    This list could be varied, of course, but is a reasonable sample of what most people would like to get from their job, if possible. It is a mixture of aims and means, and the list could perhaps be reduced to four basic items

    1. Money
    2. Interesting and satisfying work.
    3. Pleasant atmosphere and surroundings.
    4. The moral satisfaction and prestige attached to doing useful and good work.

    These individual aims are reasonable enough and apply to any firm. They are therefore too general to be of much use, except in that they represent the expectations of our members which we must try to meet as far as possible if the firm is to succeed as we want it to succeed. That they are difficult to satisfy in tote is obvious, and the greatest and most fundamental difficulty is perhaps the fact that the interests of the individual members tend to clash. How can we make five people happy if they all want the same job? Who is going to do the dull work? etc. The policy of the firm must take account of this difficulty, but the aims-or what I may perhaps, reluctantly, call the philosophy of the firm must be more specific and must relate to the nature of our work, and the role we think our firm could, and should play in society.

    1. We are designers. The design-what I have called the 'Total Design'-deter-mines what is being built. This again determines the environment in which we will have to live, and which will profoundly influence our lives. Not only visually, but functionally and spiritually, it affects our health and happiness-everything. In short, our work is important for our society. So it should be taken seriously. We have an obligation to be useful members of society.
    2. As designers, we have an obligation towards our clients. And we are in a position of trust. We could easily cheat the client by doing indifferent work-it would be easier, we could earn more, and he would probably not know the difference between what he gets and what he might have got. We must endeavour to justify that trust. And this is part of a general obligation to act honourably in all dealings with the outside world.
    3. We also have an obligation towards our professional institutions, not in a narrow, parochial way, but to assist in the process of transformation which is necessary to make them serviceable in the new epoch of industrialisation. It means taking part in the discussions going on, helping to break down barriers, cooperating with universities, research establishments and government agencies to further efficiency of building and the power of the designer to co-ordinate all design decisions.
    4. We have an obligation to our members as human beings. We have seen that to satisfy their aspirations as far as possible is a necessary condition for the firm to flourish; the firm depends on them-it is them. But there is more in it than that. By creating a model fraternity, so to speak, we make a contribution to what is almost the central problem of our time: how to overcome the social friction and strife which threatens to overwhelm mankind. We could become a small-scale experiment in how to live and work happily together. This would also have a pro-found influence on the quality of our work.

    These are broad aims, still too general, one could say, partly obvious because understood without being stated and partly irrelevant. But they outline the area inside which our work must be done. Many would, I suppose, pay lip-service to the same ideals: what matters is what we can and are prepared to do about it.

    We must now proceed to a closed definition of these aims, under the general headings of:





    and we will try to deal with aims first, bearing in mind that aims are not enough, are in fact 'Easy to draw, but difficult to get', as the pavement artist of old used to scribble under a drawing of a cottage loaf. Afterwards we must then investigate whether these aims are capable of achievement, whether they can be reconciled with each other and with the private aims of our member, what steps must be taken to achieve them, and whether we are prepared to make the sacrifices entailed.

    A QUALITY OF WORK. The relentless pursuit of quality, of excellence even, in design. The creation of total architecture, with all that implies. This is the primary aim of our organisation. And it may be out of place here to enumerate some of the benefits, or secondary aims, which would result if we were able to reach this goal in a larger number of cases. We would have a large number of satisfied clients, giving us more work, the reputation of the firm would grow, we would be able to get more interesting work, thus we would attract good collaborators, who would help to keep up the standard, it would be a boost to morale, etc. All this is obvious. Eventually we might even derive a financial bene-fit from such a course-but whether it would outweigh the extra cost is doubtful. But there is more in it than that. Quite apart from all the glamour and excitement, there is a satisfaction in doing any work well, no matter how seemingly trivial, if it is work which is necessary foundation for the more spectacular achievement. Doing your work well, you gain self-respect, and gradually, the respect of others. To spell out in more detail what we mean by quality or excellence could be a very big job and I don't think it is necessary. But perhaps I should say a few words about why I bring in this business of 'total architecture'.

    A house, a bridge, anything we build, consists of many parts. But it's the house we are interested in, not the parts, but the totality of the part. But even that is not quite right, because the house is something more than the totality of parts, it is the embodiment of somebody's idea of a house, a dream come true. When man built with his own hands, guided by his own vision of what was to be, the result was a direct, if imperfect, expression of his aspiration, a synthesis of ends and means, of the desirable and the possible, of dream and action. As such it was a form of art-it was primitive architecture.

    When his imagination was widened by artistic exploration, by study of space through solid geometry, and when the possible was extended by a better understanding of materials and physical laws, by the invention of better ways of building, by specialisation and co-ordination of effort and the handing down of experience through generations, the result could still be architecture, as long as this synthesis was achieved, as long as the vision and the extended possibilities were united by a master-mind or by a tradition embodying human aspirations and experience. It was when this synthesis was lost, when the activity of building was split between a number of separate professions and businesses, when it was not any more a way to satisfy human aspirations for a better life, but a way to make money for various sectarian interests-it was then, and to that extent, that building came to lose its humanity and even to be a menace to man.

    I claim no historical accuracy for this outburst. It is a clumsy was of expressing some elusive fact which nevertheless is important, and important to us. Any building or structure for which we are reasonable should have this quality, character, unity, call it what you like. This is what some people mean by architecture. Not the architecture which is only sculpture or aesthetic self-expression, but one which serves a worthwhile human aspiration in an honest and straightforward and practical way but can rise to great art where this is required. We know that this can only be achieved by an integration, a synthesis of all different elements, the skills, know-how and resources which are needed to create the whole thing, and that to excel in this undertaking requires a mental effort, a relentless passion for perfection. What I want to stress is that we must always be aware of the fact that the part must fit into the design of the whole, and that the whole must relate to the other larger units. We must not wear blinkers; a wider outlook may affect basic assumptions. This is not to make a nuisance of ourselves, but in pursuit of our fundamental aim of being as useful to society as possible. In any work we undertake we must try, to the best of our ability, by diplomacy, by persuasion, and by, if necessary, privately and gratuitously overstepping our brief to count, act the sometimes absurd effects of multiple design responsibility, so that it claims both of architecture, structure and efficient construction (cost}are met. We must think of it as total architecture. In cases where we are the principal c signers for a well-defined scheme, as civil engineers or architects, it is mainly up to us to achieve this, but where we are only part-designers, engineers for the structure only, working with outside architects, we must do all we can to help these architects to produce total architecture. Where there are other separate designers involved, this becomes more difficult and it would therefore be highly desirable to develop one or several services divisions, so that we can offer the architects advice on any technical aspects of the building.

    We will also, as architects, be more and more concerned with advice on briefing because the right decision on what to build is usually much more important than, how we build it, and it affects our work profoundly. We must take a critical look at the brief, and that means in many cases relating our work to its wider framework. Planning deals with this--sooner or later we may have to expand in this direction as well in the interest of unity--in the meantime we must be aware of this wider framework--just as our engineers must be aware of the architectural framework our service divisions must be aware, and interested in, the work they are helping us with--in short: away with the blinkers! The quality of our work will be enhanced thereby. To achieve full control of the design and method of construction it might also be desirable in certain cases to take over the role of the general contractor organising the work of the specialist sub-contractors.

    B QUALITY OF BEHAVIOUR. There is not much to be said about our relationship with clients, except that it is our job to look after their true interests, and, when necessary, to guide with regard to their brief in cases where they don't quite know what they want or what they could get. We should do this even if we thereby reduce our fees or incur extra expense, within reason at least. Of course, these are cases where we may have to defend our interests, but we should do it open Where we don't approve of the client's intention, where they are to some extent anti-social or unprofessional in our opinion, we should probably not undertake the job. We should keep clear of bribery and corruption. It is difficult to formulate rules about what we can consider honourable dealing, except to say that it is better to keep away from anything that would tarnish our reputation if it were known, or which we later would be ashamed of. That we should honour our obligations is obvious-and therefore we should avoid promises which we cannot keep, like giving firm commitments on time and cost before we know the relevant facts.

    C IMPROVING PROFESSIONAL EFFICIENCY. We are professional people, i.e. I have received a useful education and are expected to use our knowledge in our service of the community. The public must however take our 'expertness' 1 trust-and we must see to it that their trust is justified. That, shortly, explain the need for professional standards and professional rules of conduct. V should therefore be sure that we have the necessary qualifications and where we feel that our knowledge is inadequate in a particular field, we should add to our strength in that direction or advise the client to call in other experts or suggest that he should go to other consultants. And we should collaborate with our professional bodies, universities, colleges, etc.

    D LEARNING TO WORK HAPPILY TOGETHER. We have obligations to all our members, and most to those who have thrown in their lot with us and intend to stay. But how much we will be able to do in the direction of schooling, welfare, insurance for sickness and old age, etc., and how much we will be able to satisfy their professional ambitions, is another matter. This can perhaps be left to the general discussion of the possibility of fulfilling all these aims. Looking at these aims purely as aims, they do not contradict each other. To be the forefront of our profession, doing interesting and socially important work and therefore being honoured and looked up to and asked for advice all over the world--and known for our human and friendly outlook, etc.--that is all very marvelous. But is there any chance at allyrtetr of reaching this state of bliss?

    Reprinted by permission of Arup.