Building Beauty Dispatch #3

Building Beauty Outreach

Please help us spread the word about Building Beauty - we are actively recruiting students for next year’s class. We need your help to spread the word as far and as wide as we can so that we can continue this valuable program!

American Advisory Board Questionnaire

Thanks very much to all BB Advisory Board members who took the time to fill out the questionnaire. We received many thoughtful answers to the six questions, and wanted to post a couple of them here: What has attracted you to be a part of the American Advisory Board?

“I heartily agree with the premise that craft-knowledge and hands-on understanding of building is crucial to knowing how to design. The seductive ease of instant imaging via BIM and 3-D rendering carries with it the risk of thinking the design is inherently good – which is a gross assumption. Craft-knowledge and hands-on understanding of building is more important than ever in our profession.”

“I will support any program that encourages more beauty (real beauty as opposed to image beauty).”


The inaugural class of Building Beauty Students sitting on their finished bench.

In the Classroom and Out in the Field

As the academic year draws to a close, we wanted to share two of the projects that the Building Beauty students have been working on over the course of the year. The first one is a link to an inspiring 4-minute video titled “The Feeling Hand” that beautifully documents the stone carving workshop with blind sculptor Felice Tagliaferri. This video captures the feeling and the essence of what Building Beauty is all about; we hope you enjoy it. Please find it on the Building Beauty homepage, right under the photo of Christopher Alexander and rock musician Peter Gabriel.

The second project is an in-depth report on the Carpet Design class that Building Beauty Advisor and Faculty Member Chris Andrews led last December (Carpet Class Report C Andrews). Chris has been involved in recreating historically significant 17th century “Transylvanian” carpets as part of the Replika Transylvania Carpet project. This project aims to replace with exact replicas all 380 of the fragile and deteriorating 17th century “Transylvanian” carpets (woven in Turkey) that currently hang in the naves and choir stalls of many of the Lutheran Saxon churches in Transylvania. The goal of the Replika project is to replace the original carpets with exact replicas (using traditional weaving techniques and natural dyes) so that these valuable and significant carpets can be better preserved in a museum environment. The task of transposing the designs so that they can be woven today is an important one in that it teaches Building Beauty students to deeply understand these carpets’ structures in terms of color and geometry, as well as help preserve a piece of history. In his book A Foreshadowing of 21st Century Art: The Color and Geometry of Very Early Turkish Carpets, Christopher Alexander outlines how these antique Turkish carpets can teach us valuable lessons about the properties of beauty and how to create it in art and architecture. Throughout his career, Alexander referred to and remained inspired by these carpets in both his teaching and his professional work; his collection remains highly regarded world-wide.

In upcoming dispatches, we will share results of the HOME event, and also share with you the main project of the year, designing and building a bench in the Sant’ Anna garden. Until then, feel free to keep up with the students’ work posted on their Learning Journal at

Thank you so much for your support! Duo Dickinson,                          Susan Ingham,

Dan Klyn