Architectural Design in a Time of Change

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Frank Lloyd Wright-trained architect Vernon Swaback is out with a new book on how architectural design interrelates with the greater community. Swaback will discuss his new book, “Designing for the Life of Community at a Time of Great Change.”

TED SIMONS: A LOCAL ARCHITECT WHO VERNON SWABACK WHO TRAINED UNDER FRANK LLOYD WRIGHT IS OUT WITH A NEW BOOK ABOUT HOW ARCHITECTURE DESIGN INTERRELATES WITH THE GREATER COMMUNITY. THE BOOK IS TITLED DESIGN FOR THE LIFE OF COMMUNITY IN A TIME OF GREAT CHANGE. WE WELCOME VERNON SWABACK TO ARIZONA HORIZON. THE FOCUS OF THIS NEW BOOK, WHAT IS IT?

VERNON SWABACK: IT'S MORE URGENT THAN ANY OTHER BOOKS I'VE WRITTEN. THE IMPORTANT PART OF THAT TITLE IS THAT IT'S URGENT CHANGE. PEOPLE REALLY DON'T REALIZE IT, BECAUSE WE DON'T TEND TO SEE THAT FAR AHEAD BUT, WE'RE GOING TO HAVE A WHOLE SEGMENT OF THE POPULATION THAT HAS ABSOLUTELY NO FUNDING FOR THE RETIREMENT. THEY'RE GOING TO LIVE ANOTHER 30 YEARS MORE THAN THEY PLANNED FOR, AND THEY'RE COMING UP FLAT. SO THE IDEA THAT ARCHITECTURE, IN ADDITION TO BEING SOMETHING THAT WORKS WELL WITH HIGH BUDGETS AND YOU KNOW, PEOPLE WHO ARE VERY ABLE, SHOULD BE THE KIND OF THE GLUE THAT TIES TOGETHER ALL KINDS OF ELEMENTS TO MAKE THINGS WORK ON A BASIS THAT IS ENTIRELY DEPENDENT ON COMMUNITY.

TED SIMONS: SO TALK ABOUT THAT, DEFINE COMMUNITY AND DEFINE HOW ARCHITECTURE CAN MOVE THAT COMMUNITY FORWARD.

VERNON SWABACK: IN ARIZONA, WE MIGHT AGREE WHEN WE THINK DEVELOPMENT, WE MIGHT THINK OF WHAT IS BOUGHT AND SOLD. WE HAD ONE SAY IT ALL COMES DOWN TO VELOCITY AND MARGIN, WHICH DOESN'T HAVE A HUMAN ELEMENT. ONE SAID IT ALL COMES DOWN TO THE ART OF THE POSSIBLE. BUT IT NEEDS TO DO MORE THAN THAT. FRANK LLOYD WRIGHT CALLED ARCHITECTURE THE SEEING EYE FOR SOCIETY. PEOPLE THAT HAVE A DREAM, THEY HAVE A PROGRAM, AND THEY HAVE THE BUDGET TO MAKE IT HAPPEN. THIS BOOK IS AIMED AT PEOPLE WHO DON'T HAVE THAT. AND THE SOLUTION, THE ONLY SOLUTION I KNOW OF, IS A WAY OF ORGANIZING THE COMMUNITY FOR DOING MORE WITH LESS. YOU MENTIONED TALLIESSEN AND I LIVED THERE FOR 21 YEARS. WE HAD PEOPLE OF ROYAL BLOOD, WE HAD PEOPLE THAT WERE MULTIMILLIONAIRES, AND WE HAD PEOPLE WITH NOTHING, AND YOU WOULDN'T BE ABLE TO TELL THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE TWO COMMUNITIES. WE HAD FORMAL BLACK TIE EVENTS AND A VERY ELEGANT WAY OF LIFE AND. THAT WITHIN MY REALM OF THINKING SOMETHING WITH GREATER APPLICATION.

TED SIMONS: IS THERE A WILL FOR THAT GREATER APPLICATION UNTIL CAN WE SEE THAT FAR INTO THE FUTURE?

VERNON SWABACK: I WOULD SAY IT'S A RAGING BLIND SPOT OF THE FUTURE. SO I ONLY WRITE BOOKS ABOUT THINGS THAT I DON'T THINK ARE HAPPENING IN OUR NORMAL DAILY COMMISSIONS AND THEY NEED TO HAPPEN. IN THE LEAD RIGHT NOW IS TECHNOLOGY, AND I HAVE A CHAPTER CALLED TECHNOLOGY'S GIFTS AND THREATS, AND THERE ARE PEOPLE VERY PROMINENT IN THE TECHNOLOGY WORLD WHO SAY THEY CAN'T UNDERSTAND WHY WE'RE NOT MORE CONCERNED BECAUSE AS TAKING ON A LIFE OF ITS OWN, THERE ARE PREDICTIONS THAT WILL HAVE MANY CENTURIES WORTH OF CHANGE WITHIN A SINGLE YEAR COMING UP. I CAN SAY THEY'RE NOT TALKING ABOUT PROGRESS AND THE HUMAN NATURE OF WHETHER WE ARE GOING TO KILL EACH OTHER OR LOVE EACH OTHER OR SUSTAIN LIFE OR NOT.

TED SIMONS: SO ARCHITECTURE CAN WHAT, CAN BIND THE COMMUNITY? YOU MENTIONED THE FACT THAT SO MANY FOLKS ARE GOING TO BE RETIRING SOON AND GOING ON IN TO THE LATER YEARS AND SIMPLY AREN'T PREPARED FOR THAT. HOW DOES ARCHITECTURE HELP WITH THAT?

VERNON SWABACK: WELL, I COME BACK TO MY-- IT HAVEN'T A HYPOTHETICAL CASE. IT WAS FOR ME AND 75 OTHERWISE FROM 35 NATIONS SOMETHING THAT WORKED AS A VERY CULTURAL, ALL THESE THINGS WE TALK ABOUT BEING GREEN, AND PROPER WAY OF DIET. WE CELEBRATED THAT AND THAT'S WHAT THE BOOK IS ABOUT, AND THERE ARE ILLUSTRATIONS THAT DEAL WITH THAT. BUT IT'S ALSO THE GIVING PLEDGE, THE BILLIONAIRES GIVING THEIR WEALTH. I'M THINKING MAYBE SOME OF THESE WILL COME ALONG WITH THEIR GIFT.

TED SIMONS: SO WHAT'S THAT IN MIND? SOMEONE PICKS UP THE BOOK AND SAY THIS SOUND INTERESTING, WHAT DO YOU WANT THEM TO TAKE FROM IT?

VERNON SWABACK: I WANT THEM TO TAKE THAT THERE IS A HOPE THAT IS VERY IMPORTANT TO PURSUE, AND IT'S NOT REALLY ON ANYONE'S AGENDA. IT'S NOT-- DOW JONES AVERAGES WON'T SHOW ANYTHING ABOUT THIS. BUT THAT IS THE CASE WITH ALL GREAT IDEAS. THEY START SMALL AND GATHER OTHER PEOPLE AND GATHER THEIR OWN FORCE, AND EVENTUALLY IT'S GOING TO BE PROPELLED BY NEED WHICH IS UNIMAGINABLE AT THIS POINT.

TED SIMONS: IT'S VERY INTERESTING YOU WRITE ABOUT BEAUTIFUL AND INSPIRING PURPOSE CENTERED ENVIRONMENT. IT'S A VERY INTERESTING BOOK. CONGRATULATIONS ON THE BOOK AND THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR JOINING US.

VERNON SWABACK: THANK YOU.

TED SIMONS: AND TUESDAY ON ARIZONA HORIZON, BILL MOYERS JOINS US FOLLOWED BY A PANEL DISCUSSION ON REFORM. BILL MOYERS ON THE NEXT ARIZONA. THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR JOINING US.

Vernon Swaback: Architect

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