Architects: Think Ahead

Architects are eminently practical. Most of them, anyway. Theirs is among the most useful of occupations. Writes Robert Geddes: “Architecture should embrace fitness — order and organization, growth and form. The ‘oath of architecture’ should be loud and clear: make it fit.”

Geddes, former dean of the Princeton University School of Architecture, has a new book Fit: an Architect’s Manifesto, published by Princeton University Press.  In Rich Rein’s column in the current issue of U.S. 1 Newspaper, Rein lists some of Geddes’ eminent projects and also notes that he is a leader of Princeton Future, “the farsighted group that calls attention to planning issues that otherwise only come into view when they reach the planning board for a yes or no vote.”

Geddes will speak and sign his book at Labyrinth Books, 122 Nassau Street, on Monday, December 10, at 6 p.m. 609-497-1600. That’s the same night that the Princeton Township Planning Board will continue its hearings on the controversial AvalonBay development of the former medical center building.

Geddes wrote that buildings should be “our shared, functional, and expressive places.” I can guess what he thinks of the AvalonBay plan.

Also in the news is how another prominent architect, J. Robert Hillier,  is recycling giant boulders to help shore up the New Jersey shore. While excavating for his age-restricted development on Bunn Drive, Bob Hillier’s contractors unearthed 400 tons of glacial rock. It is being put to great use to build jetties in Deal, Bay Head, and Mantoloking.

Finding the rock was a surprise. There isn’t a good way to predict whether you are digging into it. I discovered that when the well digger came to dig 300 feet down for my geothermal heating and cooling system.

But urban planning — town planning in a community of Princeton’s size — need not involve surprises. We need to take a leaf from the architects’ books and, not just “THINK” but “THINK AHEAD.”

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