This letter was submitted by Jenny Gossow, a registered architect and current member of the Webster Groves Architectural Review Board (ARB). It is in response to a letter to the editor submitted by Ken Burns that ran on Webster Groves Patch July 13.
An architect is given the unique opportunity to lift the human spirit by creating spaces that people move through and experience. That is not to say that every project that makes its way across the table of the ARB is going to change architectural history, but it really is the essence of what we do. It shouldn’t matter if the project is in a historic district of Webster Groves or on a farm in rural Missouri, architects should strive for completed projects that exceed aclient's expectations and improve the experience of the space in some unexpected way. As with most other professions, that is not always the case.
As a member of the Webster Groves ARB for three years I can state with confidence that most people who come before us appreciate our comments and have a positive experience. As a board we realize that architecture and its successes or failures stem from somewhat of a gray area. Some of the projects we review have been drawn by the homeowner or someone with limited drafting skills. How do you help that person get through the ARB and construction process? You help refine those gray areas. You help them work through the details, details that perhaps they hadn't considered - you create a dialogue.
Webster Groves City Council Member Ken Burns should understand that by now. He has attended several meetings and would be remiss would he not admit to that very fact. The beautifully crafted ordinance that he refers to, while well written, does not address those gray areas.
As a board member, an architect and even more so as a volunteer, I offer my time, knowledge of design and creative spirit to the public as a way to give back to my community. I speak for the other board members when I say we are all advocates for the people that we serve. Any chance I have to enlighten the public about the effects of good design you bet I'll take - because that is what architects are educated to do.
Unfortunately, Mr. Burns wants the ARB to operate in a tightly defined framework, a box, which is close to impossible for every project thatcomes before us. Well, Mr. Burns, I see that box and I say it could use some windows.
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