Graham M. Patterson, Assoc. AIA


Wandering through the streets of great cities such as Portland, Madison, and Charleston, you can see the importance of designing into a context. A pedestrian walking by a project will never experience it as a single entity, instead the project will always be perceived in relation to its surroundings.

I was sitting in a park in the historic district of Savannah, Georgia, doing a watercolor of a gorgeous old fountain I stumbled upon when a homeless man sat down next to me and started a conversation about trees. He explained to me the relationship between Spanish moss and the Southern Live Oak and how they benefit from each other. Looking back at this painting now I don’t just see a fountain. I’m reminded of the moss hanging from the tree limbs, the rustling of leaves caused by the wind blowing through the park, and the intriguing conversation with the man sitting to my right. This memory is tied to the painting and the painting to the memory. It occurred to me that this relationship exists in good architecture as well. Any great urban space needs context to define it, and in return the urban space creates a very public setting for the architecture.