The foremost aspect anybody talks about when considering the design of a building is its visual effect. And unless a place is particularly noisy to the point of being bothersome, sound is hardly taken up in discourse. In Michael Kimmelman's recent piece, "Dear Architects: Sound Matters," published in The New York Times, he argues that although sound is unconsciously accepted as an unchangeable aspect of an environment, "that doesn’t make it any less an architectural material than wood, glass, concrete, stone or light."
Whereas smell was the main environmental offender in the Middle Ages, the modern dweller's biggest obstacle, especially in dense areas, is sound. Take the High Line, for instance. The main spectacle is being able to enjoy an abundance of green life in an area where it's so scarce, but respite is also achieved by walking 30 feet above ground level over a raucous of traffic, letting your ears rest for a bit.
But it goes deeper than that. Sound is a characteristic, Kimmelman argues, that defines "the function of a place or an object," and if it doesn't, it can spoil a site.
Check out what Kimmelman means in the interactive piece on The New York Times.
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