The Promise of Function
It’s been estimated that architects design only three percent of American buildings. Here’s one of the 97 percent, designed by a boat builder for a workshop on Mill Creek in Deltaville, Virginia. It’s foursquare, made of wood and tin, and will never need a speck of paint.
Someone may object and say that America needs big buildings, not small ones. Yet there are graceful aircraft hangars and shipyards and steel mills that are larger than most buildings and a dirigible hangar near Edenton, North Carolina could be a cathedral. The beauty of these buildings comes from a strict adherence to purpose, what the American sculptor Horatio Greenough defined as “the promise of function.”
That brings me back to this workshop’s function. The windows provide good light by which to work, the doors open for ventilation, and the loft provides storage – all arranged symmetrically like a well-trimmed sailboat. Buildings like this are the salted nuts of American architecture.
“There are more salted nuts consumed than caviar,” Mickey Spillane said. Spillane was describing his crime novels. But he could have been describing structures like this boat house.