Public Buildings: Are They All Taj Mahal’s?
People critical of a proposed, new public building often use a common cliché:
“It looks like the Taj Mahal.”
Supporters of the new building should consider taking this as a compliment to the community’s Building Committee and architect who designed the facility. Why?
Because in today’s economic climate, every new project in every community is designed with full awareness of the economic situation we are just coming out of. No elected official wants to be accused with supporting a facility that the community cannot afford, such as a “Taj Mahal.” Building Committees strive to build what a department or agency really needs to operate safely and securely, at the best value for their community.
The design process helps assure a cost effective solution.
Space Needs Assessments are based on current and future needs. There are no more “wants” left in assessments. Today it is the norm to review operations with the departments involved to find more efficient ways to do things, and to use less space. Design layouts are models of efficiency. Materials and building systems are chosen for their cost effectiveness over the 50-100 year life of the building. Brick is not marble, but it is durable. Brick has been used for thousands of years as a basic building material.
Public Buildings reflect their community, so it is important that every public building leaves a positive impression every citizen will be proud of as they use it or just drive by. Public buildings can be attractive without being extravagant, even when using basic building materials.
So what is the real Taj Mahal?
- It is the “crowning jewel” of Indo-Islamic architecture.
- It was finished in 1632 after 20 years of construction and using 20,000 laborers.
- It was built as a tomb for the wife of the Indian ruler Shah Jahan out of his love for her.
- Only the finest materials and the most immaculate Makrana marble were used.
- The Taj Mahal vaunts the ruler’s grandeur and munificence
- Adding to the beauty of the Taj Mahal is the extraordinary delicacyof the floral motifs that embellish the marble surface.
- Everywhere there is jasper and several other rare and costly stones, presented in a hundred different ways, mixed together and set in the marble that covers the wall. Even the black and white marble floor tiles are decorated in like manner, with unimaginable delicacy and taste
- It is a tourist attraction that draws hundreds of thousands of visitors to it each year
So, to answer the skeptic who has just said: “It looks like the Taj Mahal,” thank them for the compliment, and tell them how are proud you are of the client-architect team that worked together to create a great value for the community.