chapter
5 Pages

Debating a Discipline: ARCHITECTURE, ARGUMENT, AND THE CONCEPT OF THE DIALECTIC

According to architectural philosopher Karsten Harries, throughout history architects have

pursued the “dream of the complete building.”1 For centuries, architects have sought a

synthesis and reconciliation of form and function, tradition and innovation, context and

building, art and engineering, and other issues. Vitruvius, in the 1st century B.C.E. stated

that architecture must be durable, convenient, and beautiful.2 Wright, in the 20th century,

argued for an “organic architecture.”3 In both cases, and in the 2,000 years of architecture

between them, the aspiration was a complete, integrated whole, where nothing could be

added or taken away. “Despite the efforts of . . . generations of architects the dream of

the complete building remains unrealized.”4 Nevertheless, like the residents of Italo

As each architect pursues her or his aspirations, the discipline of architecture evolves.

The course of architectural theory is changed by each generation of architects as they