While studying up for the October Editor’s Note I found myself going back to a feature I wrote for Roofer Magazine back in the 1980’s. It was about metal roofing and in it I pointed to the roof of the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, Turkey. The roof is 1,400 years old at this point and is still going strong. Not 100 percent leak free and has undergone some repairs, but that’s pretty good for over a dozen centuries.
Built as a Christian cathedral by the Byzantine Emperor Justinian, it was later converted to a mosque, and in the early 20th century was converted to a museum. It remains a museum today and is one of the most visited tourist spots in Turkey. It is, in a word, spectacular, and I hope to visit it someday.
What struck me as I read through the history of the Hagia Sophia, was simply the concept of constructing really magnificent and significant structures. Over the centuries there are many great examples such as the Pyramids, the Taj Mahal, and the Cathedral of Notre Dame.
So many of these places were built with spiritual themes; funded by the powerful seeking to leave behind an everlasting legacy by way of magnificent structures.
What are today’s most spectacular projects? Some that come to mind include the Freedom Tower in New York City, the Burj Kalifa in Dubai, The Three Gorges project in China. And then there’s the construction of numerous sports venues, many topping $1 billion and incorporate virtual cities of residential, office, and retail spaces. More practical than spiritual, but likewise constructed by powerful people seeking to make a statement.
These were significant projects that were top of mind for me, but it was fun looking over a list of America’s Favorite Architecture, produced by the American Institute of Architects (AIA) on the occasion of their 150th anniversary in 2007.
So, if you’ve read my last couple of blogs you might ask what do these themes have to do with each other? Nothing, really. That’s what I love about blogging… the rules for choosing topics are much more liberal than in our scheduled media. Hope to do more of this in the near future.