chapter  1
The Reading Chamber
ByRobert Kirkbride
Pages 11

The Tower of Babel and Jacob's pillar represent rival approaches to architecture, one self-assertive, the other responsive to what is experienced as sacred. A work of architecture is a functional building that is also a work of art. In support of this distinction between building and architecture one could cite Vitruvius, who demanded that the architect build "with due reference to durability, convenience, and beauty". The work of architecture here is understood as the product of a communal act of self-assertion. Many of the greatest works of architecture have indeed become museums, complete with entrance fees, signs, guides, and guidebooks. This chapter considers an understanding of works of architecture as public figures on the ground of comparatively private buildings, where temple and church provide the obvious paradigms. The painting invites a distinction between two kinds of building: between mere buildings and works of architecture.