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"Ruskin said: 'Great nations write their autobiographies in three manuscripts, the book of their deeds, the book of their words and the book of their art. Not one of these books can be understood unless we read the two others, but of the three the only trustworthy one is the last.' On the whole I think this is true. If I had to say which was telling the truth about society, a speech by a minister of housing or the actual buildings put up in his time, I should believe the buildings." -Kenneth Clark
Why Study Architecture? Years of research indicate that the lay public has not grown much beyond the fourth grade level in visual literacy. The danger in leaving our culture dangling at the fourth grade level visually is that it is a human tendency not to miss that which we do not know. Quality, then, when not imagined or recognized, is not even missed-much to the joy of mediocrity and her friends congregating on each corner.
One of the basic maturities of education is "environmental." The root words of environment declare it to mean the sum total of influences that modify and determine the development of life or character. In all of the earth's history, no culture-no time-has been more in need, been more concerned with environment. We want to preserve rare species, to have clean air and pure water, to enjoy rich forests and wilderness areas. The built environment is one of the major Environmental concerns of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. The built environment comes under attack from two flanks-historical and aesthetic. The historical attack is actually antihistorical. Many of our finest buildings have become rare species in need of protection. Natural predators in the form of business, government, building codes, demolition crews and remodelers, and modernizers worship at the altar of "progress" as they faithfully destroy our cultural heritage.