Today's Cityscape is taken from an announcement made by the Hyatt Foundation, the sponsors of the Pritzker Architecture Prize.
"Architecture has long been considered the mother of all the arts," begins distinguished journalist Edwin Newman as he opens a television symposium discussing vital issues on life in the city. "Building and decorating shelter was one of the first expressions of man's creativity but we take for granted most of the places in which we work or live," he continues. "Architecture has become both the least and the most conspicuous of art forms."Newman is moderating "Architecture and the City: Friends or Foes?" when it debuts on cable television's premiere educational network, The Learning Channel, March 26, 1989. There will be an encore airing on March 27.
The program is part of a long-term effort begun by The Hyatt Foundation in 1979, when it established the Pritzker Architecture Prize to encourage a greater awareness of the way people perceive and interact with their surroundings. Each year since then, the Pritzker Architecture Prize has been presented to an architect "whose built work demonstrates a combination of those qualities of talent, vision and commitment which has produced consistent and significant contributions to humanity and the built environment through the art of architecture."
Jay A. Pritzker, president of The Hyatt Foundation, said, "We felt that a television symposium in which there could be a free exchange of ideas on the problems and possible solutions related to the growth of our cities would be a good way to expand that public awareness in the tenth anniversary year of the prize."
With a panel that includes three architects, a critic, a city planner, a developer, a mayor, a lawyer, a museum director, an industrialist, an educator and an administrator, the symposium explores problems facing everyone - not just those who live in big cities, but anyone involved in community life of any size. What should be built, how much, where, when, what will it look like, what controls should be allowed, and who should impose them?
J. Irwin Miller, an industrialist from Columbus, Indiana, praised by fellow panelists for making his hometown "an architectural museum," points to the inner cities of this country and Europe as the "real scandal of western civilization." He calls for governments, developers and architects to look at their projects through the eyes of the people who will dwell there.
Prominent Chicago architect Stanley Tigerman points out that many of the topics discussed cannot be addressed directly by architects because there are larger issues involved: cultural, political and ideological, particularly as related to the problems of the elderly and the homeless.
The other panelists are J. Carter Brown, director of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.; Robert Campbell, architecture critic of the Boston Globe; Juanita Crabb, mayor of Birmingham, New York; Jaquelin Robertson, dean of the school of architecture, University of Virginia; Robert Gladstone, a prominent developer from Washington, D.C.; Bill Lacy, former president of the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art and the secretary to the Pritzker Prize jury; and two other architects, Frank Gehry from Los Angeles and Hugh Hardy from New York.
"The majority of Americans spend most of their lives in urban areas," says Lacy, "yet few understand the forces that create our cities. This is an effort to focus attention on the factors of growth, habitability, esthetics and economics of the places we live, whether big city or small town, from one end of the country to the other."
Edwin Newman draws the conclusion, "Architects are certainly not the foes of the city, but perhaps they have not been friendly enough."
*Joseph Linton is an architect in Highland, Utah County. He welcomes other viewpoints.