A message from George Thrush, director of the Northeastern University School of Architecture.
When I heard that my friend Stephen Chung was producing a program about architecture, I was delighted. In our profession, we have long lacked an accessible way for the public to understand what we do. Of course there have been programs about the homes of the rich and famous, but these shows tend to imply that architecture is only about excess, gaudy finishes, and over-the-top features. A viewer of such shows could easily get the impression that architecture is simply a way to make things cost more!
But Cool Spaces! The Best New Architecture is much more than that. Stephen’s show welcomes viewers in to a world where architects and designers are solving real problems. And this is why Northeastern University is happy to be involved. At the Northeastern University School of Architecture, we are dedicated to raising problem solving to the level of art, not creating idiosyncratic new forms in the hope that they might possibly address a real need. And Cool Spaces! provides a unique window into this design process.
The interrelationship between problem solving, composition, material, and style is one that has been around for a long time. It’s a variation on the old “form versus function” discussion, and it will likely always be with us. But solving real problems has never been more important. We face enormous challenges in designing today’s cities — among them, environmental imperatives that demand a much higher level of awareness about energy consumption and use of resources.
Today’s challenges require sustainable solutions, and many architects are coming up with innovative approaches to recurring problems. So it makes sense that Cool Spaces! organizes its episodes according to the type of problem being solved — healing spaces, performances spaces, education spaces, and so on.
This kind of comprehensive study of innovation in architecture and design is also central to preparing our young people for the future. It allows them to learn from people who are the core innovators in our country — people who understand the need to question assumptions and challenge the way we do things.
Indeed, I now teach a large course called Understanding Design that is open to all Northeastern students and available for viewing by the general public. It focuses on the commonality of design approaches across multiple disciplines, so that young people, no matter their area of study, can learn the importance of this mode of inquiry.
So it shouldn’t be surprising that our School of Architecture happily agreed to join Cool Spaces! on its mission to educate the larger public about the value that good design brings to our world. This will have a real impact on both young people during their educational years and their parents as they make decisions that will shape the future of our entire shared environment.
In other words, it couldn’t be a more important task.