by BILL M. LACY/F.A.I.A.
You don't have to be an architect to notice that something peculiar has been happening to architecture. Something that people find very agreeable.
More and more buildings, especially in our major urban cen-ters, are making a big play for the crowd. Instead of just standing around with a blank look on their facade, they are seeking to ingratiate themselves with prospective patrons by flaunting design factors that ap-peal to their senses. Architecturally speaking, they are making a specta-cle of themselves.
This trend is in marked con-trast to the cold, sterile architecture that has characterized much of our urban design over the past two decades, a style that has contributed to the exodus of people and tax dollars to suburban shopping malls, civic centers, and cultural/entertain-ment complexes. Now, corporations are turning to lively, innovative, often breathtaking new designs to bring the crowds back—to enliven the cities where they do business, and to make their buildings enjoyable for
employees as well as the general public.
These crowd-pleasing build-ings are the product of what might be called hospitable architecture. And in the same way that a birthday party cannot be considered a cele-bration without guests, a building does not qualify as hospitable archi-tecture unless a flock of people are swirling in, around, through, and possibly over it—by design.
At first glance, hospitable ar-chitecture may not look all that different from regular architecture. Both types may take the same basic forms: e.g., low-rise, high-rise, small-scale, large-scale. Nor need a hospi-tably designed building be new; it can be rehabbed Victorian pile, or a complex of converted factory build-ings. In fact, hospitable architecture can be incorporated in a non-building.