18 / BUILDING DIALOGUE / June 2019 Letting the Past Thoughtfully Inform the Present I first met Christine Franck at a de- sign-related event in 2017. Toting an impressive resumé as a design- er, educator and author with former roles such as the first executive director of the Institute of Classical Architecture & Art and Chair of the American chapter of the Inter- national Network of Traditional, Building, Architecture and Urbanism, Franck relocated to Denver to create the Center for Advanced Re- search in Traditional Architecture at the Univer- sity of Colorado Denver College of Architecture & Planning. After successfully establishing the center and serving as its first director, Franck has since left to return to her design practice, Christine G. H. Franck | STUDIO. Focused on pursuing projects that are “ethically focused on improving the built envi- ronment and quality of life of all individuals,” this interview highlights Franck’s “lessons learned” from classical architecture and traditional urbanismand the potentials these lenses might have in shaping Denver’s ongoing development. BMO: To begin, tell me about your academic and pro- fessional background. How did it lead you to where you are now? CF: In many ways, my background could have predicted what I’ve focused on in my career. I’ve realized how important it is that I grew up in Williamsburg, Virginia. Most people think of it as Disneyland. However, Williamsburg is a real place and a perfect example of an American small town, and how its urbanism and architec- ture work together to create a built environment that supports its community. I had many les- sons from an early age about how to design and build well. I studied architecture at the University of Virginia; its grounds are among the best examples of good ur- banism and architecture. I would go so far as to say all the lessons you need to design and build well are on the Lawn in Charlottesville. While in college, my life changed when my parents moved from Williamsburg to suburban Northern Virginia. I went from living in two great examples of American urbanism (Williams- burg and Charlottesville, Virginia) to living in a subur- ban hell; suddenly I’m having to commute everywhere, I can’twalk anywhere, I can’t ridemy bike. Itwas a shock. At the time, I started to think “wow, the profession I’m entering has planned and built this awful environ- ment – this is intentional: the separation of functions, the necessity to drive, the lack of walkability, the ugli- ness of the buildings. I asked myself: Is this the best we can do? Is this the best place we can build for ourselves? This was in the late 1980s. New urbanism – an urban designmovement using traditional urban forms to cre- ate new places that are walkable, with mixed housing and income levels, and other environmental and civil benefits – was beginning. I started to become aware that other people had my same negative response to the suburban built environment. Finally, toward the end of my undergraduate years at Virginia, the lights went on for me. I understood that if we could build Williams- burg once, we could build it again, that we could use those lessons to build new healthier, happier commu- nities. I was beginning to realize that our building tra- ditions have much to teach us, and that I didn’t have to reject the past, but rather, could learn from it and use it today. Looking out over the scope of history, I realized I had a lot to learn. BMO: Can you talk about the distinction between “clas- sical” vs. “traditional” vs. “modern” architecture? From process to end product, how might one identify that a more traditional approach to architectural design and urbanism has been implemented? CF: Well, I can tell you how I use these terms, and I would argue it would be better if we were all more clear in how we use terms. When I use the term “classical” architecture, I am referring to the architectural lineage that has its roots in ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome and branches out through today. Forms, compositional elements, spatial ideas andmeanings thatwe see first inancient Egypt are developed in Greece and Rome, and spread throughout theWesternworld in a variety of modes. To take a small example, literally, when you look at the casing around an American Georgian door in Williamsburg, its forms Creative Content Beth R. Mosenthal, AIA, LEED AP BD+C Anderson Mason Dale Architects Christine G.H. Franck Rod Foster, photographer. Image used with permission of Jeffrey L. Davis. Waterfront Elevation of Chadsworth Cottage, Figure Eight Island, NC RESIDENTIAL DESIGN: Christine G. H. Franck, Inc. CLIENT: Jeffrey L. Davis