“Timelessness means architecture that is attentive to everyday human needs, that continues to be used and loved, and that is made well and with care,” explains architect Jeanne Gang, principal of Studio Gang, listing “natural light, fresh air, outdoor connections, and accessible and intuitive navigation” as measures of this feat, and ones scientifically proven to help us feel well in buildings. “Architecture can achieve these qualities by centering the experience of the people who will use it, as well as by anticipating change.”
Diller also cites flexibility as a marker of design that will be “able to endure the rapid change of culture, technology, and economy.” To her, the early modernist notions of “structural materiality” and the spirit of optimism in explorative architecture are principles that still guide worthwhile design. “Architecture is like a machine to create an experience that either triggers an emotional or intellectual reaction,” she says. “For us, each project produces a kind of great challenge and the ability to rethink and invent. I’m much more interested in speculating on a new type of institution programmatically than I am on just a form.”
Unlike the -ism eras of the past, contemporary architecture has no unified style, a phenomenon that—coupled with the infinite possibilities offered by digital design technologies—has allowed projects new aesthetic democratization. Still, the work with staying power explores much more than a spectacular facade.
“As architects we have the responsibility to think critically about how to frame the questions that drive the design, and to help clients understand the fullest potential of their projects,” says Gang, noting that her studio draws inspiration from the neighbors to their given plotlines “to see how our buildings can catalyze positive change and become an active part of the wider network of communities and the natural environment.”