Architecture and Sculpture
'FAILURE IN EVERY DIRECTION of human effort is less frequently attributable to either insufficiency of means or impatience of labour, than to a confused understanding of the thing to be done.' The topic exercising the author of this confident assertion was architecture. If his arresting surmise applies to the building of today as he supposed it did to that of his own time, the philosopher no less than the architect has some blame to bear. The origin of serious confusion is the philosopher's to sanction; its persistence, his to encourage. Not curbing it early on, he will have contributed his negative part to the growth of distortions of practice that gain hold and resist easy eradication.
An optimistic assessment of the outlook for modern architecture was offered in an article that Sir Richard Rogers wrote for The Times of 3 July 1989. In essence, his message was that, should failure befall us in future, the fault will lie less with confusion of thought than with greedy or purblind commercial developers, with mean and unimaginative public authorities, and with shortsighted and timid decision-makers and patrons. The programme for the architect himself however, is clear and unconfused; and if he is only allowed his way by those forces that bear down on him so heavily in myriad practical ways, we may look forward to constructing public building as fine as any we have inherited from the past.
Particular buildings that Rogers used to illustrate his conviction that the best modern building need not blush to stand