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Calgary Herald: Top architect on ugliest and most beautiful Calgary buildings

Last updated 6 years ago

Gallery: Top architect on ugliest and most beautiful Calgary buildings

Peter Burgener offers some insight into Herald readers' choices for the most beautiful, and the ugliest, buildings in the city

Editor's Note: All week, we've been asking readers for their thoughts on the most beautiful and ugliest buildings in Calgary. The suggestions have been surprising, inspiring and interesting -- and they are still coming.

In the meantime, we thought we'd ask one of Calgary's top architects, Peter Burgener of BKDI Architects, for some insight into reader choices.

Here's what he had to say. Check out the gallery to see his comments about specific buildings.

First comment -- as is well understood -- the definition of beauty is complex. One of the most famous modern architects -- Mies Van der Rohe - coined the phrase "God is in the details." Most certainly, his work evinced a definitive perspective that paring everything down to clean, rational, simplistic essence resulted in a work of beauty. Frank Gehry, a pre-eminent architect of our times, is famed for his complex, often "organic," shapes and spaces that can defy logic in both compositional form and structural comprehension. Yet much of his work is equally considered to be beautiful.

Historically, ornamentation was synonymous with the concept of beauty in built form -- directly contrasting with the stark minimalism of "modern" architecture. And more recently -- within the last fifty years or so -- "post-modern" architecture has moved increasingly to a middle ground between those two esthetics. And each of those sensibilities have been regarded as being the basis for creating beautiful buildings by their proponents.

Perhaps the fundamental point is to recognize that the determination of beautiful -- or ugly -- buildings is very much a reflection of cultural and societal values, ultimately expressed as "beauty is in the eye of the beholder!"

Our own experiences and our personal values inform our perceptions and shape our opinions. They determine not only what we look for -- but often -- what we see. Different points of focus might be on composition, proportion, balance, colour, materials, contextual relationships, symbolism, humour, functional integrity, and more.... and each of these can impact our responses, both emotionally and intellectually.

See Peter Burgener's comments on specific Calgary buildings.

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