Architecture is: Discovery

Welcome to our blog series, Architecture is. This series will explore the many facets of architecture through a series of essays, each organized around a theme. All photography, copyright Peter Miles. 

Below: a chandelier in the “night room”, one of the drawing rooms located adjacent to the Grand Foyer.IMG_1480


Everyone has at experienced wonder at some point in their lives – that singular moment when something makes you pause and take note. Some places, such as Paris, are particularly conducive to such moments. This past summer, I had the opportunity to travel to Paris with my camera in tow. Few things are more enjoyable to me than wandering through an unfamiliar city, with many new things to be discovered.

One such thing was the incomparable Palais Garnier. (well my patriotic duty requires me to note that it has been compared to the Library of Congress ). A fantastic Beaux-Arts style building (the sort that Ayn Rand loved to hate), the opera house has inspired a book, a musical and countless performers, spectators, and visitors.

Upon entering, the fantastical, over the top French styles that one begins to become bored with if one has spent days as a tourist throughout Paris reveal a new twist: electrical lighting. Unlike Versailles, Saint-Chapelle, Notre-Dame, and Paris’ other famous buildings, the Palais Garnier was designed and built at a time when electric lights were as cool as Uber is today.(Whoops, maybe not the best pun for this city). Because of this, the light fixtures were designed as an integral part to the building. Entire rooms are sculpted around richly detailed lights, sculptures carry torches, and Grand Foyer gives Versailles’ famous Hall of Mirrors a run for its money.

Opportunities for this sort of discovery are to found all throughout architecture: the next time you enter a building, look around, notice what things appear to be deliberate, how the space was designed, how it makes you feel. As a designer, you hope to always be able to discover new perspectives in the work of others, and to help lead clients and ordinary people to discoveries of their own.


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