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Welcome to the Dance

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There's an old saying in journalism that writing about music is like dancing about architecture. Using one medium to describe another has always been a challenge to writers, poets, visual artists and, yes, even architects. But the art of architecture affects many of us on a purely subconcious level. Every city is full of buildings--they keep the rain off our heads--but they can also make us feel constricted, open, enlightened, ready to work or ready to sleep. If somebody didn't care about design, and about the roofs over our heads as something that should be beautiful in their own right, we'd live in a cardboard-box world.

There are three parts to our architecture issue. First, we take a look at one of the newest buildings in town, the J. Crist Gallery. Designed by one of Boise's architectural geniuses, the J. Crist Gallery sets itself apart. Rarely is a space designed from the ground up to display art. Most galleries take a hermit crab approach, inhabiting buildings designed for other purposes until they outgrow the space, then trade up for a larger venue. We put architect Cathy Sewell, Boise Weekly's "Home Sweet Home" writer, on the job of looking at the gallery.

Second, we asked what the architects think: What are the best and worst designed buildings in Boise? Architects are not known for being publicly critical, so it was hard to get them to dish the dirt on fellow firms, but it was equally tough to get them to stop talking about their own buildings. But we managed to sift through their comments and came up with a constructive, cohesive arrangement of good and bad. We think you'll agree.

Finally, we tell the story of BW's new home. We recently gutted the place and had architect Cathy Sewell (we just mentioned her) redesign it to accommodate a small independent newspaper in need of a larger space.

If there's one thing we want you to come away with from this trio of stories, it's to think about where you live, the spaces you inhabit and how we can all make it better. Oh, and do something about that huge hole in the middle of downtown.

­--Bingo Barnes