Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Temple of the Human Spirit - Frederick Clifford Gibson


Frederick Clifford Gibson's 'Temple of the Human Spirit,' with sculpture by Michael Wilkinson, designed for a site overlooking San Francisco Bay, for a competition that ... well, let's say that for good reasons Gibson had eschewed competitions, right up until he saw this competition brief callinging for "an architecture of laughter, in particular, a Temple of Laughter":
We do not seek a religious building per se [continued the brief]. Nor do we seek a sacrilegious building. We do, however, seek a work of profound significance, meaning, and dignity. We do not seek an ancient temple, a renaissance chapel, a tomb or a folly. We seek a brave new work that challenges history, conformity, tradition, dogma and even gravity. We seek a work of gravity that defies gravity. We do not seek a funny building or a silly structure. We seek an extraordinary new work in spirit, concept and execution. We seek an expression and embodiment of man's greatest joy and celebration of his own existence; the celebration of his own soul, the celebration of his own being, the celebration of his own mind, the celebration of his own reason, the celebration of his own life, the celebration of his own happiness, the celebration of his own body, the celebration of his own hand, the celebration of his own voice, the celebration of his own laughter. In short, we seek a masterpiece...
Such an opportunity with such a brief would be too hard for any architect of spirit to pass up! Fred Gibson recounts the tale of the design and the outcome of the competition here: The Temple of Laughter: How it Became a Joke and Ended Up in Triumph. The tale has a moral.

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