Groundbreaking architecture = groundbreaking research
I thought we might talk a tiny bit about architecture for research.
A question asked by Edwin Heathcote in the Financial Times implies a connection between architecture and innovation. More specifically he asks about the connection between great groundbreaking research and great groundbreaking architecture. More directly he observes the significance of the "curious situation in which architects need to spend much of their time and budget on the circulation and core spaces that are often overlooked" in order to more consistently use iconic design as a key strategic tool to achieve the conditions for the exchange of ideas and insights that lead, these days, to truly great stuff.
There is a line he draws between the creative acts of architects and the innovative creations of scientists or, at least, the architectural expression of an age with an appreciation of the acts of scientists. In every great historical innovation, he implies, these expressions and accomplishments come from a connection between a scientist with resources and his conversations with an architect of his choice.
In our time, however, there are many layers of intervention between the scientist and the architect. Every layer – institutional, corporate, financial, cultural, social political – strips away the connections between genius and talent, between resource and imagination, between intention and accomplishment, between innovation and architecture.
Between the innovators and the creators is a bureaucracy of "providers" whose measure is regulation rather than inspiration. Innovation and discovery is not measured, but space and its efficiency is, and it always benchmarked against standards and typologies.
If we open up the history of discovery, I expect we'll find rogue movements. That is, the great skunkworks, Building 20s, HP garages, and significant others of their times were not places of assignment but places of choice. That does not make them the right places for innovation. That makes them the last places where really committed people could turn passion into innovation.
We shouldn't think that starving place and space generates great ideas. We should add to (subtract from?) the accomplishments made in those places a calculation of the innovations lost because of inadequate thoughtfulness about the environments that nurture creative thinking.