Building to Succeed: Architectural Aesthetics and Structural Engineering
by Kathy L. Braunschweig at Black Middle School
Why would a fairly new bridge in Houston be adorned with four big, brightly red, and completely superfluous, balls at its entrance? Traveling over miles of other more conservatively designed concrete and steel bridges, students in most any major city can also see an impressive downtown skylines filled with imposing and recognizable corporate skyscrapers. Why don’t big buildings have big red balls? Looking at bridges and skyscrapers worldwide, what accounts for their similarities and their differences? Architectural design blends form and structure and aesthetics along with those elements contributing to structural integrity. A work of architecture, whether a bridge or building, satisfies both the criteria of function and form, constructive strength and aesthetic effect (Zannos 9). For example, an American design for twin towers, like the World Trade Center, offers an aesthetically different form from its Asian counterpart, the Petronas Towers in Malaysia, though both incorporate similar function structures of load-bearing walls, beams, cores, and columns. Built not only to meet functional and structural considerations, both these buildings become iconic architectural works of art by blending form and function into their design.
In a larger sense, the construction of buildings and bridges define the landscape of cultures, time periods, and directly impacts the quality of life. A shifting background of…