The American architect Louis Sullivan was a prolific writer about his profession. In 1896, he wrote the following lines:
It is the pervading law of all things organic and inorganic,
Of all things physical and metaphysical,
Of all things human and all things super-human,
Of all true manifestations of the head,
Of the heart, of the soul,
That the life is recognizable in its expression,
That form ever follows function. This is the law.
Can you support his views?
Do you dispute his views?
Do you think he is correct in part and incorrect in part?
Using evidence from buildings of three different centuries, please evaluate this famous statement. En route to your answer, you should specify whether function means utilitarian function or something else. Offering your definition may guide you to your answer. We do not have a fixed answer in mind, so your opinion is valid as long as you support it persuasively. You may discuss a small group of buildings rather than one building alone in each of the three centuries that you choose, if you prefer a small group to a single structure to support your view.
Some aspects of this statement struck Prof. K as having been affected by popular knowledge of Darwin’s theories of animal and human origins and development. She wonders if you think so, too, and if you think that “all things human” such as our limbs and brains have reached a final and optimal form that is ideal for the function it addresses. Thinking about that may enrich your consideration of Louis Sullivan’s prose passage, but you may ignore any connection to Darwin and simply write about three buildings in three different centuries and whether or not, or how much, they support what you interpret as his idea of function.