Every human community creates an architecture of sorts as a byproduct of building shelter to accommodate physical needs and to house social functions. The elevation of shelter to Architecture is a judgment made by the community itself, or its observers, that the shelter transpires basic function and expresses a higher symbolic level of inspired problem-solving or spiritual aspiration. Because human beings are constitutionally symbol makers, the symbolic significance of of he architecture eventually takes on a greater and greater importance. It then goes through a process of maturation in which the symbolic considerations finally overwhelm the the functional needs. When this happens, it usually signals the approaching end of an architectural era. In ancient Greece this is called the Hellenistic period, best symbolized by the Corinthian column capital with its overabundance of acanthus leaves. In European Gothic architecture it is called the Flamboyant period, with its overabundance of flying buttresses, extended pointed arches and ever thinner and elaborately carved stone columns. In western Neoclassicism, it is the Baroque period with its overly complex and tortured decorative motifs, called Rococo. We appear to have now reached that stage in Modern architecture.

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As much as humanity is a symbol maker, we are equally a tool maker. For all that civilization is shaped by the social forces of religion, politics and economics, it is as much shaped, or at least facilitated, by technology. For the builder, construction technology is what language is to the writer, the hammer and chisel to the sculptor, and numbers to the mathematician. It is the fundamental means by which the builder realizes the idea and solves the problem. Technology relies on the physical, material, intellectual and spiritual resources of the community in which building occurs. It is sometimes identified as an Age, in which development of a principal natural material has become the central source of achievement. Thus we recognize a Stone Age, a Bronze Age, an Iron Age, and our own, the Industrial Age. We may be on the threshold of the Environmental Age. It is also sometimes identified as an historical Period, during which a particular civilization, or complex of civilizations representing a recognizable set of ideas is dominant. So we refer the the Ancient Period, the Medieval Period, the Neoclassical Period, the Renaissance Period and our own Modern Period, in the west. In pre-twentieth century China, equivalents to these periods are sometimes identified as Dynasties

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