ARCHITECTURE is the MARRIAGE of ART and STRUCTURE
A few years into the dozen I spent teaching at Arizona State, we got a new Dean. I don't remember much about him, except that he was cool. He allowed a few of us instructors and students to organize the celebration and dedication of our new College of Architecture building. We put on quite a show.
A string quartet is playing classical music under the entry canopy. People meander in the plaza, sipping wine and snacking on crackers, celery sticks and carrots; typical University fare.
In the middle of a refrain, the strings stop; sixty long seconds. Then quietly at first from huge speakers under the table skirts stirs the wings of Iron Butterfly. The sound grows. The people quiet. You can feel the base rumble through the concrete. IN A GADDA DA VIDA thunders, a billion-billion butterfly wings.
The lights fall dark, except for two spots hiding on balconies above. A five story construction crane in the rear parking lot lifts the Dean up and over the front fa�ade, down, down, his long black cape billows, down and into the throng of cheering students, alumni and professors.
The music fades. The Dean's voice bellows over the speakers.
"And in the beginning there was Art and She was alone." The spot light moves to a student dressed in a trailing ivory dress. She approaches the Dean and slips her gloved hand into his arm, looks up and smiles.
Nobody moves. Only a light desert wind stirs the strings to play again; Mendelssohn's Wedding March.
The other spot slots onto a groom and a preacher. They stand solid black, formal in front of a square reflecting pool. The Dean walks Art between the chairs set on axis to the water. People follow and sit and the Dean and his daughter Art turn. And the preacher asks, "Who is it that gives his daughter Art this day?"
And the Dean says, "I do, for she has for too long, been alone."
And the preacher asks, "And who is it that would have this most beautiful bride?"
And this all, is broadcast over the loud speakers and recorded.
And the student playing groom, Mr. Chi Tecture says, "I do."
Art kisses the Dean on the cheek. The Dean steps aside. Chi takes Art by the hand. The couple turns to the preacher. The audience leans forward, whispers.
"Dearly beloved and long parted lovers, you must remember that once upon a very long time ago you were married already. Architecture was Art and Art was Architecture. You together were inseparable, one and the same, wedded and never the one without the other. Then came days modern and architecture was stripped bare. Art was allowed to hang only on walls and stand naked on lawns, apart and alone. We have longed for you to find each other again and to merge as one, as you were and as you soon will be, again."
"Art, do you take Chi Tecture to join and hold as one?"
The young student plays her role perfectly.
"Oh yes", she says looking into the other students eyes as if they truly were lovers.
"Chi, do you take Art to cherish and join and hold as one?"
"Yes, I do."
"Then I pronounce you ARCHITECTURE, One and The Same. Let no man, no instructor, no client, no developer compromise this union. Be true to each other. Chi Tecture, you are never again without Art and Art, you have Chi Tecture as your foundation and support. Now, go forth and be as one forever."
The student actors don't wait for me to pronounce them married. The young man slips his hand behind the girls long black hair and bends her low. He kisses her like they've been kissing in studio behind lockers all semester.
A horn sounds on the street off the plaza. Art stands up and pulls off her ivory veil. Chi unzips the back of her gown smiling at the crowd. Art smiles too. Full on she pulls down her dress and wiggles out. She's wearing a tiny bright yellow polka-dot bikini! Art steps out of the pile of ivory fabric in black high heels.
The crowd roars.
The strings play the racy old Gillette Razor Strip song and Chi starts dancing. He pulls a pair of flip-flops out of his coat pocket then drops the coat and tails to the floor. He unzips his pants to furious cat calls and strips out in full blown color floral Jams.
The horn sounds again. The car is now in the plaza. The crowd pulls back. The car is a Rolls Royce Ivory Stretch limo. The door opens and our new Dean steps out, big smile, sporting a Hawaiian surfer shirt and shorts and skinny legs stuck into another pair of bright blue flip-flops.
Chi grabs Art by the arm and they waltz to the car and climb in. The Dean, the chauffer, waves out the window and drives away.
The crowd is nuts. Everybody's talking and laughing and returning to the wine and the beer and the eats.
And I just stand there.
We hear the horn again. The limo's gone around the block and is pulling again into the plaza. The car stops in front of the fountain. The Dean gets out and ARCHITECTURE, the couple, pile out. Planted lipstick kisses are all over Chi. Art flashes big white teeth.
They hold hands and walk up.
Twenty masked and painted drummers and horn players then pile out of the lobby, tall feathered headdresses, Mardi-gras parades behind me. The couple falls in behind the last loud drummer. I follow the couple. I play the preacher.
My cheeks hurt from smiling so hard.
La Cola, The Tail, the long winding dancing laughing flashing colorful cola, snakes around the plaza gathering guests and growing, then winds into the lobby and all around the newly revealed spaces of our new College of Architecture, up the stair wells, floor by floor by studio by lecture hall to roof.
P.S. Words: wonderful ways to wander. Architecture: Art and Structure, inseparable. Note: All this Once Upon a Very Long Time Ago really happened.
ARCHITECTURE is the MARRIAGE of ART and STRUCTURE
Or at least it should be!