A center for arts and crafts: Georgetown

TR Number
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

“Two great desires which are in essence the desire to absorb and then desire to emit, the desire to know and the desire to test, the desire to hear and the desire to utter, and the basis not only of a true and effective education, not only are they the wholesome body and the enchanting voice of art, but they are greater then these, for they are the animation of quality of that higher purpose and significance of art that we call poetry”

Lois Sullivan

Crafts are the integration of art and life. They bring together nature and man in the form of a usable object. Architecture may be named the ultimate craft endeavour for through building we create a work of art which is used by man. In the thesis the two disciplines are brought together in the Center for Arts and Crafts. The Center, a complex of structures united by public space acts like the guilds of the early twentieth by providing “a forum for exchange of ideas and theories and [a place for] socializing.” (Cummings, page 25) The craft center offers an opportunity to learn about craft; the use of our minds and hands together. Visitors have the chance to participate with craft through viewing the making process, and making them oneself. The theme for the design becomes “interaction.” Interaction is possible for the neighborhood with those outside and those inside.

Providing public space is essential to encourage interaction. “Space is the principle medium of urbanism - the matrix that units public and private interests in the city, guaranteeing a balance between the two.” (Michael Dennis, Court and Garden, page 2) The making of a public rooms is often neglected in today’s architecture. Where ever these courtyards and piazzas occur, they are active and full of life. The Washington Harbor which neighbors the Incinerator site is a successful example of the desire of people to congregate and their need for socializing. The Arts and Crafts Center becomes a stage, enlivening the structure through activities of the public and their interaction with the inhabitants of the complex. The creation of a space which requires human participation to complete the architecture ensures that we, humanity, and the primary subject or object of architecture.

Architecture is built by human hands for humans to inhabit. It should spark our imagination and encourage our participation. The honest expressions of structure and materials are rare in recent buildings leaving us faced with false images and removed from reality. How can we interact with false truths? In our search for a new reality we can look back to simpler times and apply their principles to our complex world. Nature and our own histories must become our guide on the journey toward meaningful and engaging architecture.