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On Beauty and Being an Architect [thesis]

Andre Assis
The Ontario Association of Architects Code of Ethics states that "members should... strive for design excellence and in so doing, members should thoughtfully consider and respect both the natural and cultural environment of the communities in which they are practicing." But what exactly is design excellence? Does it in any way entail the obligation to make spaces and experiences that are beautiful? In her book, On Beauty and Being Just, Elaine Scarry argues that beauty presses us toward a
more » ... s us toward a greater concern for justice. Based on this work, this thesis explores the significance of beauty and the role that it plays in the experience of the built world. Specifically, the thesis asks, "What guides the hand of the architect when working to reintroduce a lost beauty." The thesis is tested through a proposal for a site in Ottawa's Lowertown that holds significant historical value, but has suffered from decades of neglect. Only two facades, supported by steel bracing, remain of the original Our Lady's School structure. The proposed design repurposes the existing structure as cooperative housing for senior women. Drawing upon studies documented in Atul Gawande's book, Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End, the project is designed as a supportive environment for senior women to keep their 3 independence and contribute to society by caring for each other under one self-sustaining program. The project concludes with a series of vignettes describing "beautiful moments" that help to refine the definition of beauty and bring attention to the importance of aspiring to beauty in the architectural practice. 4
doi:10.22215/etd/2017-11991 fatcat:uwncmfuppncktgc5dxno4pakvy