He’s an odd duck, but he’ll interest you


Years ago, as an architecture student traveling in Europe, I sought out Le Corbusier’s home in Paris. I had the address from his books, over which I had pored for hours in the university library. Some of his writings were more than 40 years old, but their rousing rhetoric still made architecture seem more like a noble crusade than a mundane profession. Perhaps that’s why I imitated his spidery ink sketches and his military-looking stenciled lettering. I admired Frank Lloyd Wright’s buildings, but the old man — he had recently died — with his capes and flowery pronouncements, was a figure from another era. I had been taught that Ludwig Mies van der Rohe was a great architect, but his buildings left me unmoved — Mies is not for the young. “Corbu,” on the other hand, though he was 76, continued to produce designs that surprised and inspired — an unusual, spread-out one-story hospital for Venice, for example, with skylights instead of windows so you could see the sky while lying in bed. For a tyro, such invention was irresistible.

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