June 2019 \ BUILDING DIALOGUE \ 19 DenIZen APArTmenTS | AlAmeDA STATIon | DenVer co ENGINEERING DESTINATION SPACES TRANSFORMING DENVER M&NBldgDiaMay2019New_MonroeNewellBldgDiaAd 4/25/19 3:21 PM Page 1 are similar to those in a Roman classical architrave – the beam element that spans above supporting elements like columns or piers. Both the casing and the classical architrave are expressing the idea of spanning. Classical architectural forms are tectonic, they poetically express the bearing and transition of load. Clas- sical architecture is not a style – there are many classical styles – rather it is a language used to express a building’s character, its organization, and its relative relationship to other buildings. Decoration and other elements help establish hierarchy, pro- portion harmonizes compositions, scale makes buildings seem intimate or grand. In terms of process, classicism begins at the level of the city and understanding the role a building plays in its larger con- text, before focusing on the building and its parts. The idea of creating a unified whole, at all scales, from the city to the detail, with man as the primary measure, is central to classicism. We can learn these lessons by studying appropriate precedents and using them for today’s architecture. So, what’s traditional architecture then? Well, it is anything that’s a tradition – and there are a lot of traditions, one of which is the classical. When using the term “traditional” we are talking about a process when someone – say the designer – consciously connects to and works in or with an established design and building process, with its common forms, mate- rials and details. For example, builders who built bungalows in Denver were working in an arts and crafts tradition. They were not trying to do something “different” or “contrasting” to this tradition. Tradition is a long, slow, evolutionary process. In vernacu- lar traditions, while you are building something familiar, and so perhaps less consciously, the next time you build a similar building, you might solve a problem slightly differently. This new solution can then become part of the tradition. In some ways, traditional architecture is convention, it is just the way we build. Again, I’m not talking about style, there are many different traditional styles. I think of tradition as a passing on of knowledge, hard-won knowledge, of how to build well. It is about operative principles, not what something looks like. Modernist architecture, on the other hand, operates differ- ently; it operates from a position of being “different than” or “forward-focused” in contrast to the past. It stems from not wanting to do things as they were done traditionally in fa- vor of design that is different, unique, innovative, new and “of its time,” which is purportedly the only way to respond to new materials and technologies. I do think there is a desire for modernity in our culture, in the sense that we humans do not want to be “stuck in the past.” But, when I use the word “modern” or “contemporary,” I use them in their proper sense, meaning simply “now.” There is a modern classicism, there are contemporary traditional architectures, and contemporary modernist ones. We can learn from each, and shouldn’t re- duce this discussion to style. These are ideas and definitions I’ve been asked about a lot. The thing I keep coming back to that distinguishes these things is a matter of intent; is the intent of the architecture to be new for the sake of the new, or is the intent to do some- thing new because a new solution is genuinely warranted? This interview has been edited and abbreviated due to space limitations. For further readingand reference related toFranck’s work and writing, please refer to \\ Creative Content