The launch of José Oubrerie’s videopolemic on September 25th coincided with a lecture I gave at the Wexner Center in Columbus, Ohio, which began with the following quotes: 

“It is perfectly true that music and architecture flower from the same stem. 

The composer has his score. The architect has his … system on which he works, 

and the minds are very similar, practically the same. 

My father was a musician … he taught me to see a great symphony as an edifice, an edifice of sound…

So never miss the idea that architecture and music belong together. They are practically one.”

—Frank Lloyd Wright

“Music, like architecture, 

is time and space.”

—Le Corbusier

“I constantly refer to music in referring to architecture, because to me there is no great difference – when you dig deep enough in the realm of not doing things but simply thinking of what you want to do – that all the various ways of expression come to the fore. To me, when I see a plan, I must see the plan as if it were a symphony, of the realm in spaces in the construction of light.”

—Louis Kahn

At “T” Space gallery in Dutchess County, there is currently an exhibition on “The Architectonics of Music,” which records the sixth in a series of studios taught at Columbia University on music and architecture. The works by six teams of two graduate students are part of a larger project to develop cross-disciplinary, inspiration-provoking work on new architectural language.

Music, like architecture, is an immersive experience; it surrounds you. One can turn away from a painting or a work of sculpture, while music and architecture engulf the body in space. Research into music and architecture moves forward at a time when architectural pedagogy is diffused, worn out. Schools of architecture today seem directionless. Postmodernism and deconstruction have passed into history, while the euphoria of technique in “parametrics” promises a lack of idea and spirit, and neglect of the importance of scale, material, detail, proportion, and light. Yet we continue to see potential in future architecture as open to experiment and as connected to spirit. While we ask, “what is architecture?” we also ask, “what is music?”

Steven Holl