Merriam-Webster defines architecture as "The art or science of building; specifically: the art or practice of designing and building structures and especially habitable ones." While the term is loosely defined to encompass the broad spectrum of architecture, it does little to highlight the immensities of its impact on society, in its most traditional form, the design of our built environment, constituting our homes, businesses, places of worship, and so on. Trends and progressions in architecture are a direct reflection of historical context and may serve as commentary for the artistic, sociological, geographical and political environment in which they were erected. In addition, architecture serves to demarcate industrial and technological advancements.

The Basic Tenants of Architecture

The Roman architect Vitruvius defined the three most critical elements of architecture as durability, utility, and beauty, in the first century. These tenants, much like the buildings that embody them, have continued to stand the test of time. That said, should any of the tenants be compromised, it is equally as likely that the structure will follow suit. A building that is not durable and built without recognition of the climate and terrain, the importance of thorough craftsmanship, or the longevity of building materials, will surely crumble. What is more, if a structure does not efficiently serve the purpose for which it is built, it will become obsolete, unnecessary, and often reduced to rubble. Utility is critical and requires great foresight and precise execution on the part of architects during the design phase, in order to ensure that the building will facilitate, not impede, habitation. Finally, while beauty is said to be in the eye of the beholder, in terms of architecture, personal preference is often overcome by a sense of widely perceived reverence. For instance, while they might not suit your personal aesthetic, it is impossible to deny the impressive stature of the Coliseum, the intricacies of medieval cathedrals like Notre Dame, or the ease and flow of more modern structures, like the Sydney Opera House. This appreciation that supercedes individual taste, gives artistic and historical relevance to buildings, ensuring their preservation, not just as a structure, but also as a cultural touchstone.