Architecture and the Business Corporation
In the modern era, four great categories of clients have divided support for architecture among themselves: churches; rulers and governments; private builders erecting domestic structures; and corporate enterprises, seeking places within which to train, produce, store, display, sell, or manage. For one reason or another, each of these customer groups has dominated specific moments of architectural invention. A stroll through the highlights of post-Renaissance architecture in Europe quickly reveals their shifting status, as sources of both wealth and professional honor.
In the United States the patterns of patronage have been closely related to social and political experience. Until recently governmental support, on a national level, was much limited by both tradition and constitutional interpretation. Churches, in all their numbers, have been competitive and nonofficial, only rarely supplied with the capital required by impressive ecclesiastical commissions. Thus two great sources of potential architectural employment operated under conditions that might be called constrained, and the challenge of capitalizing a high proportion of significant American architecture was placed on the shoulders of private clients, building for either domestic or institutional purposes.
The domestic story has been surveyed often, among others, in broader architectural histories, treatments of pattern books, and studies of evolving gender cultures and philosophies of family living. 1 These narratives have been further enlivened by the presence of extravagant private clients, whose