Advanced Aging

July 30th 2015 Comments: 3 Topics: ,

As much as I hate to acknowledge it, we live in a youth-obsessed culture. Its all about what’s fresh – what’s in – what’s the next hot thing.

Fashion may fare well in pop culture and technology but in architecture, it just looks shallow and desperate. After all, buildings should not be disposable goods. Developers often talk of building lifespan. Just look at shopping centers as an example. They open their door with an expiration date built in. After they die (as predicted – because it was built in), they sit abandoned, rotting and littering our landscape. The developers, meanwhile, move onto the next fertile (read: popular) ground. Quick deaths are perfectly fine for that annoying popular song you’ve already heard a million times, but is that a position we should take toward buildings? We need to think past the end of our freshly sculpted nose.

With all this talk about “green” architecture, if you can create a building of permanence, one that can span generations of usability and desirability, how much greener can you get?

Aging is a process that happens naturally. People talk of wanting to “turn the clock back” as if youth was something other than superficial. In our architectural work, we actually try to turn the clock forward by using authentic materials that happily show the passage of time. As in some Asian cultures, we treasure the weathering of years. Patina is not an embarrassment; it should be celebrated as something enduring and wise.

To accomplish this, we rely on legitimate and real materials, often treated in manners to even advance age. Stone, heavy with flaking mortar. Masonry stucco, inherently colored. Brick with weathered paint or slathered with a thin layer of mortar. Cypress, pockmarked and ravaged by worms. Oaken timbers checked with cracks. Hand blown glass. Like old friends, these sage visages populate our work.







Greg Tankersley for McAlpine Tankersley


  1. What a lovely post, about architecture as well as other things that have to do with life. I recently saw something on TV about athletes who have continued with their sport into their 100’s. Astounding and wonderful!

  2. Pam Sessions says:

    So eloquently and well said. Thank you for your commitment to a more sustainably beautiful built environment. Your leadership by example provides critical teaching for practitioners and beneficiaries who have the pleasure to experience your fine work.
    Pam Sessions
    Hedgewood Homes

  3. Monica says:

    One must live a little life to appreciate anything of value.

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