The government buildings in Reflections: Government, which Roads Publishing published in August, come from six different continents and were built at various times over the past 1,000 years. But they all have one thing in common: They’re wonderful to behold.
Whether ancient or modern, government buildings are built to reflect the aspirations and values of the society they serve. Today, figuring out what those qualities are, and deciding how to express them in a design that satisfies an opinionated public, is an especially delicate and complicated task for architects. But as the contemporary buildings featured in Reflections: Government show, the hubbub of debate can ultimately give way to exceptional results.
“Designing a government building is a unique challenge for an architect, but also for a government. The spotlight of public opinion and maelstrom of political debate that surrounds the design is nurtured in an environment where a ‘week is a lifetime’—[that’s] at odds with architecture, which must be designed to last 60 years or more,” said Ivan Harbour, a partner at the architectural practice Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners, who wrote the book’s forward.