Writings on Architecture and the City by Canadian architect George Baird is a six-chapter long compilation of his texts published between 1969 and 2013.
Baird begins with the discussion of architecture and semiotics in his texts “La Dimension Amoureuse in Architecture” (1969) and “The Dining Position: A Question of Langue and Parole” (1976) that document his search for “a deeper and more articulate illumination for the social and cultural consequence of built-form than has previously been possible.” In “A Critical Reflection on the Theory and Practice of Architectural Symbolism in the Work of Venturi, Rauch and Scott Brown, and their Colleagues” (1976), Baird declares the “undervalued efforts of the remarkable group of American architects around Robert Venturi” as “the consequential object of critique.” He concludes in “Semiotics and Architecture” (1998) that the impact of neo-avant-gardist and phenomenological attacks on postmodernism had left architecture criticism unable to “any longer sustain substantial new design creativity.”
The book ends with a question: Why can’t architecture just be happy? Baird’s answer is that “even if architecture itself ‘can’t just be happy,’ it does have the capacity to find numerous, engaging ways to insert itself into the consciousness of its users, so as to evoke responses that might well be ‘happiness.’”
With Writings on Architecture and the City, George Baird has created a critical architecture autobiography that aims to make a deeper argument for the larger project of socially and culturally responsible architecture theory and practice.