The building may be just as convenient when you once know its dodges, but it does not appear so, and it loses the great effect of direct vista and climax.
An able architect, who had given much thought to a plan of a large building of this kind, said to me, in showing me his plan, with a justifiable gratification in it, "It has cost me endless trouble, but it is a satisfaction to feel that you have got a plan with backbone in it." That is a very good expression of what is required in planning a complicated building, but few outsiders have any notion of the amount of thought and contrivance which goes to the production of a plan "with backbone;" a plan in which all the subordinate and merely practical departments shall be in the most convenient position in regard to each other, and yet shall all appear as if symmetrically and naturally subordinate to the central and leading feature; and if the public had a little more idea what is the difficulty of producing such a plan, they would perhaps do a little more justice to the labors of the man who contrives the plan, which they think such an easy business; and no doubt it may appear an easy business, because the very characteristic of a really good plan is that it should appear as if it were quite a natural and almost inevitable arrangement.
Just as it is said in regard to literature that easy writing is hard reading, so, in regard to planning, it is the complicated and rabbit warren plans that are the easiest to make, because it is just doing what you please; it is the apparently perfectly simple and natural plan which springs from thought and contrivance. Then there is the next step of raising the walls on the plan, and giving them architectural expression. This must not be thought of as an entirely separate problem, for no truly architectural intellect will ever arrange a plan without seeing generally, in his mind's eye, the superstructure which he intends to rear upon it; but the detailed treatment of this forms a separate branch of the design. Then comes the third and very important problem - the covering in of the space. Next to the plan, this is the most important. All building is the covering over of a space, and the method of covering it over must be foreseen and provided for from the outset. It largely influences the arrangement of the plan. If there were no roofing, you could arrange the walls and carry them up pretty much as you chose, but the roofing of a large space is another matter.
It requires extra strength at certain points, where the weight of the roof is concentrated, and it has to be determined whether you will employ a method of roofing which exercises only a vertical pressure on the walls, like the lid of a box, or one which, like an arch, or a vault, or a dome, is abutting against the walls, and requires counterforts to resist the outward thrust of the roof. We shall come upon this subject of the influence of the roof on the design of the substructure more in detail later on. Then, if the plan is convenient and effective, the walls carried up with the architectural expression arising from the placing and grouping of the openings, and the proper emphasizing of the base and the cornice, and the horizontal stages (if any) of the structure, and the roof firmly and scientifically seated on the walls; after all these main portions of the structure are designed logically and in accordance with one another and with the leading idea of the building, then the finishing touches of expression and interest are given by well designed and effective ornamental detail. Here the designer may indulge his fancy as he pleases, as far as the nature of the design is concerned, but not, if you please, as far as its position and distribution are concerned.
There the logic of architecture still pursues us.
We may not place ornament anywhere at haphazard on a building simply because it looks pretty. At least, to do so is to throw away great part of its value. For everything in architectural design is relative; it is to be considered in relation to the expression and design of the whole, and ornament is to be placed where it will emphasize certain points or certain features of the building. It must form a part of the grouping of the whole, and be all referable to a central and predominating idea. A building so planned, built, and decorated becomes, in fact, what all architecture - what every artistic design in fact should be - an organized whole, of which every part has its relation to the rest, and from which no feature can be removed without impairing the unity and consistency of the design. You may have a very good, even an expressive, building with no ornament at all if you like, but you may not have misplaced ornament. That is only an excrescence on the design, not an organic portion of it.
I have thought that it would be of use to those who are unacquainted with architectural procedure in delineating architecture by geometrical drawings if I took the opportunity of illustrating very briefly the philosophy of elevations, plans, and sections, which many non-professional people certainly do not understand.Figs. 16 through 25
A simple model of a building, like that in Fig. 16, will serve the purpose, as the principle is the same in the most complicated as in the simplest building. It must be remembered that the object of architectural drawings on the geometrical system is not to show a picture of the building, but to enable the designer to put together his design accurately in all its parts, according to scale, and to convey intelligible and precise information to those who have to erect the building. A perspective drawing like Fig. 16 is of no use for this purpose. It shows generally what the design is, but it is impossible to ascertain the size of any part by scale from it, except that if the length of one line were given it would be possible, by a long process of projection and calculation, to ascertain the other sizes. The rationale of the architect's geometrical drawings is that on them each plane of the building (the front, the side, the plan, etc.) is shown separately and without any distortion by perspective, and in such a manner that every portion is supposed to be opposite to the eye at once. Only the width of any object on one side can be shown in this way at one view; for the width of the return side you have to look to another drawing; you must compare the drawings in order to find out those relative proportions which the perspective view indicates to the eye at a glance; but each portion of each side can be measured by reference to a scale, and its precise size obtained, which can only be guessed at roughly from the perspective drawing. Thus the side of the model is shown in Fig. 19, the end in Fig. 17; the two together give the precise size and proportions of everything outside to scale, except the projection of the pilasters. This has to be got at from the plan and section. Everything being drawn on one plane, of course surfaces which are sloping on one elevation are represented as flat in the other. For instance, on No. 17 the raking line of the sloping roof is shown at N. So we know the slope of the roof, but we do not know to what length it extends the other way.