Synagogue Architecture in the United States, by Rachel Wischnitzer
The flurry of architectural and quasi-sociological writing that has accompanied the present rush of construction all over the world is still more or less dominated by the doctrine of functionalism. Crudely stated, this doctrine declares that everything about what a building looks like should be something, or should depend on something, about its use. But no building is ever merely functional; on the contrary, we sometimes find elements in the design and construction whose effect is precisely to give to one kind of building the appearance of some other kind, mainly for the purpose of creating an attitude in the spectator. Architectural iconography of this nature is still prevalent even in the most modern buildings. Though today a bank, for example, no longer hides itself within the palazzo of a Florentine banking family in order to show the financial acumen of its directors, or, to display its zeal for public service, behind a Roman façade, it still tends to adopt self-assertive devices. “Flowing space,” the dream of every prospective home-owner, guides the depositor past low counters where tellers, liberated from their cages, cash his checks by way of “modern, friendlier banking.” Public structures, however much designed to facilitate the human activities carried on inside them, seem, as always, to symbolize in their appearance certain attitudes.
Evocative style still exists in domestic architecture as well, though perhaps to a lesser extent: “picture windows
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