Do buildings define a culture?

Most advocates for “Diversity” don’t give much thought to what they espouse. A lot of them tout the virtues of “Diversity” simply because they have no other choice if they wish to keep their jobs, friends and even family.
But the few who do start asking serious questions may find themselves wondering what, exactly, constitutes a community. After all, if a population is multicultural, multiracial, multilingual etc. then what unifying feature can be said to define them as a community as opposed to a collection of individuals?
Beaverton, Oregon councilwoman Betty Bode asked this question. This is what she wrote (typos and all) in the September/October issue of “Your City”, an official publication of the Beaverton municipality (pg. 4):

Beaverton’s Changing Face

Beaverton has some big questions to answer. We have to decide as a community where we will be investing in our future.
“The word citizen has to do with cities, and the ideal city is organized around citizenship – around participation in public life.” (Solnit, Wanterlust: A History of Walking)
Our city will be 120 years old next year we have never built a City Hall. Over the last twenty years Beaverton’s population has grown, city services have been added; we have become culturally diverse, maintain quality public safety for the entire community supported by a budget that gets the job done…
The only building we have built – the Beaverton City Library – today serves as the heart of our city. Why is that? Is it the beautiful fountain and Park next door? Is it the welcoming and distinctive library building itself? Is it the Beaverton Farmers Market? It is all of those things. Civic buildings bring life to our city and define our character…
Civic buildings are landmarks, I returned to the town I grew up in the Midwest. It had been over thirty years. I felt reconnected when I saw City Hall, the City Park which still has the hill I use to sled down thinking it was really steep, city library, and the Church I went to with my family. The rest had changed, the drug store was gone, movie theater closed, gas station replaced by a high rise. What I realized was that the civic buildings, landmarks of the City were the enduring icons. What had changed were economic forces that torn down out of date businesses added new improved regional centers, shops, and eateries…
What will a new City Hall look like? Will we move in the direction of a Civic Center? Does City Hall need to be dependent upon light rail?… Answers to these questions need to be consistent with our values and character of our community…

I agree that civic/historic buildings are an important part of  a community. Historic cities all over Europe have striven to maintain their character by enforcing strict building codes. The government of Jerusalem, Israel has insisted that all its buildings have stone facades. This gives Jerusalem a unique character.
But buildings are expressions of a culture. They are not the culture itself. Councilwoman Bode writes that any proposed Beaverton city hall should be consistent with “our values and character of our community“, but if it’s the buildings that define the character then this would be a circular argument; however the building is designed, the community will be defined by it. She writes of “our values” but does not explain how there can be one set of values in a multicultural environment. Doesn’t each culture have its own values? If she is implying that Beaverton has its own dominant culture and values, then perhaps she should be concerned about what will become of this culture when the city is 80% Mexican. Bode obviously places some priority on the preservation of our “values and character” but, by stressing the importance of architecture instead of demographics, she is like a physician whose only treatment for a dying patient is to record his last words.

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7 Responses to Do buildings define a culture?

  1. Kiwiguy says:

    This is an excellent point. Those concerned with heritage architecture are implicitly looking to preserve the particular culture and tradition that created those buildings. But of course the people who live and use those spaces are the ones who also create the culture. The role of getting the “right people” is often heard in sports or business for creating a certain culture. But it’s often overlooked when it comes to immigration.

  2. Georgia Resident says:

    On the upside, strict building codes, by limiting new developments, can keep some communities from becoming “diverse”.
    But yeah, I think that they’re mostly treating the symptom here, rather than the disease.

  3. No surprise the most beautiful cities are those that *don’t have time for leftist shit*

  4. Annoyed says:

    Buildings contribute but aren’t the builders more important?

  5. Stealth says:

    If buildings define a culture, then the US largely lacks definition. It’s sad to say it, but Latin America, a region known to us as third world, has us beaten in this regard. In the United States, our buildings are simply functional. That seems prudent, but it’s ultimately just hard on the eyes.
    New York City is an exception to this general rule. New England as a whole seems to possess a lot more architectural beauty than the rest of the United States, as well. Perhaps this is what really attracts so many Americans to NY.
    I suppose it’s just a consequence of car culture. Our cities are designed to be driven through, not walked. This is the issue that New Urbanism seeks to address, even though all of the NU developments I’ve seen were just expensive suburbs.

  6. CanSpeccy says:

    If advocates for “Diversity” gave any thought to what they espouse they would realize that promoting multi-culturalism and multi-racialism destroys diversity.
    Both culture and racial differentiation require many generations of separate development. All of the fascinating diversity of the human species, the result of separate evolution over hundreds of generations, will be destroyed in a couple of generations as a result of the lib-left love of “diversity.”
    As a result of this globalist program of mongrelization humanity will be diminished in the capacity for both cultural and biological adaptation.

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