Sunday, July 26, 2015

Architecture & Fly Fishing: On the Fly

In the last few months I've developed an appreciation for, and an interest in, fly fishing. A connection between fishing and architecture may not be obvious, but if you've followed this blog even a little, you know the truism first espoused by Charles Eames - "Eventually everything connects."

To become a successful architect or fly fisherman requires the proper use of tools, and the tools are numerous and complex. The architect uses everything from pens and tracing paper to code books and computers. The fly fisherman uses everything from a rod and reel to boots and waders. Mastering the tools of the trade is a lifelong endeavor. It is never easy.  No matter how diligently one practices, true mastery remains elusive. 
Fly fishing tools (gear)
Architect's tools (equipment)
Though these things are true, I postulate that the most fascinating connection between architecture and fly fishing is more philosophical than pragmatic. Let's discuss the fly fisherman. There are really many different types of fishermen. At one extreme is the fisherman who is out simply to catch fish - as many and as fast as possible. For this type of fisherman, fishing is simply a craft. Nothing more and nothing less. 
Then there is the angler who fishes for more complex reasons - to relish in the natural beauty of the river, to perfect his cast, to discover the best fly for the given conditions in order to tempt the desired fish. To this type of angler, actually catching the fish is incidental to the experience. To this angler, fly fishing is elevated to an art form.
Bryant-Denny Stadium 
in Tuscaloosa, Alabama
Just as there are different types of fishermen, there are different types of architects. For many, architecture is simply their job. They gain a certain level of competency and then develop techniques for churning out buildings. The simpler and more standardized the buildings, the more they can churn out. The more they can churn out, the better the bottom line, or the less time they have to spend at their job. The results are, at best, functional and efficient buildings derived by the craft of building.

Beijing National Stadium by Herzog & de Meuron
Then there are the architects for which architecture is much more than simply a job. It is a calling. Each project is an opportunity to design something special. Of course their creations must function well, but there is much more to it than that. The buildings often require new or different systems and materials and will necessarily require much detailing. The results can be iconic buildings derived through the art of architecture.

The architectural design culminates as a building on its site, which is a much better fate than that of the fish, which ends up on a plate! Join me next month when we'll look at the connection between architecture and food, in the post.....Food for Thought.